Mexico City, November 10-13, 2014
Three international conferences and workshop on “Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion” were held in Jerusalem (2009), Rome (2011) and Hong Kong(2013). These academic activities sought to foster the art of convergence and cooperation in global ethics among experts in bioethics coming from the world religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
Hosted by the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, established in two Roman universities, the Università Europea di Roma and Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, the conferences were a first step in creating a permanent academic forum to promote dialogue and bioethical reflection in the light of human rights and duties addressed from different religious and cultural perspectives in an actively-advancing medical, legal and technological environment.
By gathering experts from these religions, a rare space of dialogue has been created where an atmosphere of friendship and respect reigns. Such dialogue and encounters allow us to see the other as our brothers and sisters in our common humanity. Such dialogue and encounters allow us to see the other as our brothers and sisters in our common humanity. This is more urgent in our globalized reality, and can eliminate suspicions that are sometimes causes of distrust and even violence.
Anahuac University is an UNITWIN privileged partner of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights from its very beginning in 2009. As co-organizer of this international workshop and public conferences which will be held in México City at its campus, this will be one of the commemorative events of the 50th Anniversary of Anahuac University’s foundation. This event hopes to reinforce its commitment to integral formation and development of individuals and society through positive leadership.
The UNESCO Chair seeks to create a forum of diverse bioethics thought leaders. Collaborating in a spirit of respect and friendship we hope to deliver a common framework to guide the application of bioethical principles in the light of the UNESCO Declaration. In this manner we can inform and enlighten ethical, legal and public opinions, decisions, and actions relative to medicine, life sciences and human rights and responsibilities.
Our common inspiration and Christian identity prompt us to engage in dialogue and work toward the goal expressed by UNESCO Chair’s motto, “Fostering the Art of Convergence and Cooperation in Global Ethics”.
During the 2011 Rome workshop we dealt with the principle of the protection of vulnerable peoples in bioethics in the light of the UNESCO Declaration in Bioethics and Human Rights. Soon became clear that with so many different religious traditions, many conceptual problems were unresolved. The workshop in Hong Kong (2013) focused on the tension between human rights and cultural diversity, as they affect the life sciences, healthcare and the appropriate use of technology in these fields.
In Mexico 2014 the workshop will focus on the Principle of Social Responsibility and Health from the perspectives of different religions and cultures. Article 14 of the UNESCO Declaration in Bioethics and Human Rights states in part that:
1. The promotion of health and social development for their people is a central purpose of governments that all sectors of society share.
2. Taking into account that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, progress in science and technology should advance:
(a) access to quality health care and essential medicines, especially for the health of women and children, because health is essential to life itself and must be considered to be a social and human good
The meeting in México will consist in a three-day workshop where bioethics experts from Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Mesoamerican traditions will gather to discuss different papers submitted for this occasion. The collection of these papers will result in the publication of a book.
The following papers will be commissioned:
1. One expert from each of the 8 religious groups will write and present a paper (approx. 10-page) that must be submitted on July 31, 2014. The papers should primarily offer religious perspectives supported by scriptural, textual and other authoritative sources. The papers should comment on Art. 14 of the aforementioned UNESCO Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights, (no. 1, 2a). In addition, one can comment on how this article has its basis taken from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 25). The IBC has published a Report on the Principle of Social Responsibility that should be consulted.
a. After our previous discussion on the relationship between human rights and responsibilities, how does your religious tradition understand social responsibility in terms of justice, equal access to all in healthcare?
b. How does your religious tradition see, judge and advise the political and governmental instances in their allocation and provision of healthcare? What are the areas of cooperation, interaction or contention?
c. How does your religion practices its works of mercy in offering services in healthcare, if any? How does this service collaborate with the secular healthcare system in different countries (or example of where it is a predominant religion)? What is the added value of religious participation in healthcare delivery—specific mission, spiritual or pastoral care, etc—that can make a difference to the secular counterparts?
2. A second expert of the same tradition will be assigned to respond to the above paper (approx. 4-5 pages) and submit it before the workshop.
3. A third expert from a different tradition will be assigned to respond to the above paper (approx. 4-5 pages) and submit it before the workshop.
The workshop will be held on November 10-13, 2014 in Mexico City. The language of the workshop is English. Participants of the workshop include:
a) Experts from the religions who have written and submitted the papers. They are expected to have read the other papers before attending the workshop. During each workshop session, they will give a 20 minute summary of their papers followed by the two 10 minute critiques and an ample period of discussion, clarification, and questions from other authors.
b) Academics interested in the workshop may also participate in the sessions, after approval by the organizing committee (send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org). They can raise questions only after the above group has exhausted the discussions.
It is hoped that these discussions will provide a clear and thorough understanding of each religious tradition on their understanding of the principle of social responsibility and health in the light of human rights. Their papers may also be modified based on this dialog before submission for eventual publication.
As means of publicity and involvement of university community and the public we suggest to organize at Anahuac University one or two open events on topics related to sensible bioethics issues in the light of human rights.
On two evenings, experts in the workshop will provide open academic conferences for educational purposes of human rights. We will encourage participation of the public including public authorities, political parties, teachers, university students, and anyone interested in these relevant topics. The conferences are primarily academic and apolitical, even though we encourage participation of politicians and human right activists. There will be simultaneous translation into Spanish and English. The conferences and discussions could address some of the following questions:
- Human Rights and Multiculturalism
- Human Rights and Bioethics
- Human Rights and Social Responsibility
Bioethics Art Exhibition
During the days of the workshop and conference, UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights will set up an art exhibition of the winners of Bioethics Art Competition that have taken place in 2011 and 2013.
These artworks have been successfully showed in several art venues and institutions: in the United States (at the UN Headquaters in New York and in Houston), Rome and Hong Kong as a correlate cultural activity and environment to illustrate universal values related to bioethics in the light of human rights. The mission of this competition as well as the themes and pictures of the works of art can be found at: www.bioethicsart.org.
Around this exhibition we could organized a presentation in order to involve talented students and scholars in the next edition of the competition that will be launched on September 2014 and with a deadline for submission in May 2015.
- UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, Rome, Italy
- Anahuac University North, Mexico City, Mexico.
Alberto Garcia, Director of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights
Gonzalo Miranda, LC, Fellow of the UNESCO Chair
Joseph Tham, LC, Fellow of the UNESCO Chair
Martha Tarasco, Researcher of Anahuac University
Joseph Tham, LC email@example.com