Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights

UNESCO reacted to developments in genomics by releasing this declaration, which draws on the tradition of the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and is similarly framed in terms of human dignity, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. The declaration asserts that the human genome is the common heritage of humanity and establishes individual rights regarding the genome, including nondiscrimination, informed consent, and confidentiality. It identifies specific applications of genomics, namely human cloning, as contrary to human dignity. The declaration also identifies freedom of research and access to its benefits as a principle while asserting that states should establish ethics committees to assess the ethical, legal, and social issues raised by genomic science and technology. Finally, the declaration delegates responsibility for dissemination of the principles it lays out and further examination of the relationship between human rights, dignity, and freedoms to the subsidiary International Bioethics Committee (IBC).