7th International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Workshop – Casablanca – Fès, Morocco 11-13 November 2019

7th International Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion Workshop – Casablanca – Fès, Morocco 11-13 November 2019

Protecting the Future Generation and the Ethics of Human Reproduction

Read the complete version of the program following this link.

In this three-day event, the UNESCO Chair workshop will analyze and discuss Protecting the Future Generations and the Ethics of Human Reproductionfrom an Interreligious and Multicultural Perspective. Experts from religious (Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish) and secular traditions will discuss article 16 of the UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights: “The impact of life sciences of future generation, including on their genetic constitution should be give due regard.” Recent advances in reproductive technologies are having great impact on the creation of new families and affecting the roles of women.

We have chosen Morocco for these conferences because its prestigious higher education academic multicultural and diverse population making this location attractive for experts in the field. The topics to be addressed will capture the attention and interest of health professionals, university scholars, the scientific community, researchers, media, politicians and the general public.

We are confident that this next major UNESCO Chair endeavor gathering twenty-five experts in bioethics and other related disciplines from seven major cultural and religious perspectives will be help foster conversation and understanding among peoples from our globalized and religiously diverse world so in need of peace.


The framework of the workshop is based on Article 16 of the UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights: “The impact of life sciences of future generation, including on their genetic constitution should be give due regard.”

The ethics of artificial human reproduction (ART) is vast with many nuances and debates. While the papers could address areas in ART that are more particular to the religious tradition, we propose the papers to concentrate on the following guiding questions as they regard the more controversial areas that can affect the future generations and the nature of marriage, family and relationship with children.

On Pre-Natal Testing and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

In the practice of IVF it is common for clinicians to perform prenatal testing (PNT) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) as a means of selecting the genetically “healthier” embryos for in-utero implantation.

  • Given the fact that neural tube disorders and genetic abnormalities can raise a host of spiritual and existential dilemmas, as well as explicitly ethical concerns, for the pregnant woman regarding her future child, to what extent should religious and spiritual and bioethical counseling be offered to women both during the process of obtaining consent for such testing, as well as during her deliberations regarding the results of such tests.
  • Does PNT and PGD constitute a form of eugenics or is it an acceptable means of ensuring the health and flourishing of the future child/generation?
  • Does PNT and PGD constitute of form of discrimination against future persons with genetic disabilities or lesser abilities because they are not enhanced?
  • Does the act of genetically selecting embryos raise moral concerns regarding the relationship between generations?

On Maternal Surrogacy

  • Is maternal surrogacy inherently a form of commodification for both the child as well as the mother, or can it be considered a virtuous (compassionate or selfless) act?
  • How does the practice of maternal surrogacy affect the nature of motherhood, fatherhood, womanhood, childbearing and family?
  • How does the practice of maternal surrogacy affect the future generation?


The following papers will be commissioned:

1. One expert from each of the seven religious or secular groups will write and present a paper (approx. ten pages) that must be submitted three months before the workshop addressing some specific aspects of the topic that will be pointed out by our Scientific Committee.

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.

4. The language of the workshop is English. Participants of the workshop include:

a) Experts from the various 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 15-minutes summary of their papers followed by the two eight minutes 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 agarcia@unescobiochair.org). They can raise questions only after the group above has completed its discussions.

5. Before submission for eventual publication, the participants may modify their papers in light of the dialogue of our three-day meeting.

It is hoped that these discussions will provide a clear and thorough understanding of each religious tradition’s understanding of the bioethical topic we in the light of human rights.

Open to the Public Symposium

As means of dissemination, publicity and involvement of multiple and diverse scientific, medical and university communities and the public, we suggest to hold in coordination with Fondation Cultures du Monde and the Association Fès Saiss an event open to the public on topics related to bioethics issues in the light of human rights in a multicultural and interreligious environment.

Artistic Event “Come To My Home”

During the days of the workshop and conference events the Moroccan Fondation des Cultures du Monde will organize an open to the public multicultural and interreligious artistic event: www.cometomyhome.ma

“Come To My Home” is a scientific, cultural and artistic endeavor, initiated by Mr. Driss Allaoui, former Secretary in Morocco and a prominent active figure in Moroccan society. Its mission is to mix and make interact art, cultures and different citizenships.

Robo-ethics: hybridization and humanization of rehabilitation technology

Robo-ethics: hybridization and humanization of rehabilitation technology

By Giulia Bovassi

Robo-ethics: hybridization and humanization of rehabilitation technology Masterclass in “Neurobioethics and Robo-ethics”, 2nd lesson.  Interdisciplinary  Research Group on Neurobioethics, 23 November 2018


Luciano Bissolotti, physician and rehabilitation specialist, responsible for the recovery and functional rehabilitation service of the “Domus Salutis” in Brescia, linked the theme of the humanization of the technique to the therapeutic-rehabilitative value of robotics, within the ethical question of relational change which new technology brings.

This second lesson of the Masterclass in “Neurobioethics and Robo-ethics” explored access to health care connected to robotic application through a historical sequence of an evolutionary process of engineering, medical, informatics and technical innovation. “Biography and biology with a history and narration, and not simply matter”, through prof. Bissolotti’s words. Recalling the etymological concept of the term “robot“, whose reference is to the word “robota“, refering to forced service or work, Bissolotti highlighted a fundamental aspect we must keep in mind when talking about robotics, which serves the human being: from the earliest origins, already around 1920, robotics’ main purpose was service, not to “robotize the person or its needs.” On the contrary, the goal was to give greater human needs greater humanity by improving the quality of life, which is exactly what Domus Salutis has been trying to do for years in the rehabilitation context. This humanization, while being among the preferred lines of research internationally, is not the only purpose explored in research.  

As a field with strong attraction in many economic areas of scientific investigation, there is a clear need to rediscover common instruments of dialogue that guarantee means to understand human-technical relations. Robotics, as a neologism, was coined in response to an inadequate ethics without update of subjects such as substantial, subject, human being, good and evil, liberty, will, etc. Some questions were already present in the literature of the 1980s’ with Asimov, who proposed three laws of robotics: Can a mechanical robot be harmful? Can we speak of empathy for robots? Can they regret? The three laws are today synthesized into a kind of “zero law,” by which it would not be permissible to invent robots harmful to human beings or which would perform actions that would place humans at risk, an assertion which in medicine and health refers to the principle of benefiting the patient and avoiding harm. Following the Hippocratic tradition, doctors follow a deliberate cost-benefit analysis to find the most beneficial treatment, even when the recovery of full functionality is unlikely. This approach is especially difficult to follow in the complex case of neurorehabilitation in which there are numerous clinical factors following an injury to the nervous system. Some propose introducing machines adapted to the patient through progressive motivational incentive and motor-therapeutic repetitiveness. This treatment at the vanguard of human-machine interaction would off a “soft paternalism.”

However, questions remain regarding the border between therapy and enhancement. Bissolotti explained the coevolution that is taking place between man and robot. This development demands that we ask how and in what way the thinking mind begins to resemble something other than itself, perhaps even machines as it seeks to compete in the evolutionary race.

CONIUS DAY – December 14, 2018

CONIUS DAY – December 14, 2018

On Friday, December 14, Santiago Marcet, a collaborator of UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights participated in the CONIUS Day on the initiative of the CONIUS Commission, with the organization of the Sapienza University’s Center for Eurosapienza and the UNESCO Chair “Population, Migrations and Development” as a continuation of the Symposium held in Florence last November.

Enrico Vicenti, secretary general of the Italian National Commission of UNESCO opened the conference recalling the role and activities of the CNIU (Italian National Commission for UNESCO), as well as the genesis of the three Commissions in which the program of Italian Unesco Chairs was articulated in the last two years. He highlighted how the work of this Day is part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, perhaps too much neglected by the media and public opinion.

Professor Alessandra De Rose, Chairolder of the UNESCO Chair in Population, Migraztion and Development, continued recalling the anniversary of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Chair, the programs carried out to date and the planning guidelines for the near future. Professor Catherine Wihtol de Wenden, has therefore carried out her “lectio magistralis” on the theme of “Human Rights and Sustainable Development” illustrating in detail the contents and characteristics of her important “Atlas des Droits de l’homme “just published in France by the publisher” Autrement.”

Those present then listened to the first of the reports of the Working Committees of the Italian Unesco Chairs. Professor Paolo Orefice continued explaining in detail the works of the recent Symposium in Florence, which is currently underway for the e-book and whose program has been widely disseminated among scholars and researchers of the Unesco Chairs system.

Dr. Martina Alemanno, who came to replace Enrico Giovanni from ASVIS, made a very interesting explanation about her agenda of goals set for 2030, and the various projects in which they are participating. Of particular interest to our Chair were their collaborations in various United Nations projects on early childhood education, for which they have translated European manuals for trainers. They have also developed a short sustainability training course.

Most of the speeches focused on the importance of the Statement, its implementation in the various universities or institutions, and its importance as a reflection of the communicative effort of the various Chairs. Which, according to Prof. Paolo Ceccarelli, need to have more visibility and notoriety within the general scope of UNESCO, as well as a more direct communication with the core structure of the organization (as are other chairs in other parts of the world).

The Concept of Person in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court

The Concept of Person in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court

On December 14th, Prof. Alberto Garcia, our Director, in quality of member of the evaluation commission of the research work in the Faculty of Law of the Complutense University of Madrid, took part in Lorena Velasco Guerrero’ presentation of her 1100-page dissertation on “The concept of person in the Jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court.” She analyzed 36 years of resolutions of the Spanish Supreme Court on the concept of person, a fundamental concept in bioethical issues.

In the conclusion Lorena Velasco Guerrero claims that “the person is affirmed as a living being. Life that constitutionally has to be understood as a path that begins with gestation and ends with death, in which qualitative changes of a somatic and psychic nature take place, due to the physical and a moral —or psychological— dimension that composed the person in “psychosomatic unity”. The person is sexed. Depending on their sex, their biological reality, it can be one of two genders of the human species: male or female. In addition to biological sex, the sexual orientation and sexual identity are considered in the decisions of the High Court.”

She also emphasizes that “The lack of conceptualization and the equivocality in the use of the terms of close significance makes it difficult to clearly determine the reference to the person by any of them. It has to be taken into consideration that, although generally
speaking human being means person, due to the present legislation, only born human beings are persons and only viable individuals are human beings. The term individual might refer both to the person or to the citizen. Citizen generally refer to the individual physical person, although sometimes it include legal persons. Finally, while the term nobody might refer to person, the term all would not refer to every person but to every human being, including the nasciturus – although this express indication is not applied by the TC in the interpretation of the entire article.”

Prof. Alberto Gracia underlines how was interesting that “since the term person has been constitutionalized, it necessarily becomes the subject of constitutional interpretation —the Constitution, after all, does not say anything more or less than what the Constitutional Court says it says—. The multiplicity of interpretative criteria and the absence of justification in their election entails a constitutional voluntarism, a breach of the principle of legal security. Insecurity that is aggravated by the denial of any unavailable elements. There
is nothing, not even the concept of person, that cannot be changed.”

Follow thin link to read the conclucions

Leave No One Behind: Launch of 2019 GEM Report UNESCO

Leave No One Behind: Launch of 2019 GEM Report UNESCO

On Tuesday November 27th, the Global Education Monitoring Report on Migration, Displacement and Education was launched at Accademia dei Lincei in Rome. The event was hosted by UNESCO and opened a window on the education for migrants and refugee by analyzing what have been done by governments until now. Ministers, academics, civil society, youth and UNESCO Chairs were present during the launching of the report; among them Franco Bernabè, President of the Italian National Commission of UNESCO; Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO; Anna Cristina D’Addio, Senior Policy Analyst GEM Report, Fr. Fabio Baggio, Under-Secretary, Migrant and Refugees Section, Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.  For our UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, it was a moment of sharing the mutual principles on equal education in developed and developing countries.

The 2019 GEM report focuses on “presenting evidence on the implication of different types of migration and displacement for education but also the impact that reforming the curricula, pedagogy and teacher preparation can have on embracing diversity,” Stefania Giannini.  This report serves as a guide for teachers and governments to determine education objectives for future multicultural generations.

Franco Bernabè opened the discussions claiming that “in order to have social development it is crucial not to build walls but bridges,” rephrasing and broadening the subtitle of the report. The encounter of different cultures is what is needed to increase our societies.

Since our societies are becoming more multicultural, it is fundamental that our teachers are well prepared to communicate and teach children from different backgrounds. It is important to underline that the language used to study and to communicate are not the same.

Indeed, within the 2019 GEM Report are listed seven recommendations, which the main are the following: 1) teachers should receive more support to satisfy the quantity of roles and tasks that they are called to achieve to educate migrants and refugees. 2) Other Italian cities should look at some inclusive activities already established, for example, in Milan and Turin. 3) Governments should insist more on gathering data to estimate better the dimension of migration within their country.

Anna Cristina D’Addio also emphasized the importance of increasing trainings for teachers: “it is relevant that they have the right workflow tools to make these kids, the new generations part of our communities.” Often teachers do not feel supported and well prepared to work in a multicultural environment. According to a survey done in France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Spain and United Kingdom, teachers agreed that adjusting the new requests in favor of migrants’ education brought much work and caused frustration due to the lack of support.

The second part of the conference was dedicated to discussions and opened questions. Eugenio Bruno of il Sole 24 Ore, chaired two round tables pointing out interesting arguments around the launching of the report. First, he asked to Fr. Fabio Baggio the Vatican point of view of the situation of migrants’ education, which should be based on the development of centered education.  Mario Giro (Former Deputy Minister and Community of Sant ’Egidio), quite surprised, commented that finally UNESCO focused its research not only on the safeguarding of cultural heritage but also on education. Prof. Livi Bacci (University of Florence), on the other hand, introduceed the concepts of the Global Compact and its repercussion on Italian politics. Finally, Prof. Alberto Melloni (UNESCO Chair for Religious Pluralism and Peace), commented that the matter to migration (not an issue) linked to the religious aspects is not well considered in Italy.

Anna Cristina D’Addio welcomed representatives of international organizations such UNHCR, IOM, and Save the Children in the second round table. Ana de Vega, Paola Alvarez, and Francesca Bocchino discussed the difficulties of accessing the education not only for children but also for adults. Often migrants are collocated in different classes increasing the number of migrants that leave education at early stages. Another factor that pushes away people from education is the bureaucracy and its complex procedures, problems which the 2019 GEM Report is committed to change and improve.

As a UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights that promotes bioethical and human rights principles based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was illuminating being present during the launching of the 2019 GEM Report and contributing with our activities and mission. In this context it is important to underline the constant work that our UNESCO Chair has been doing through the project EUROSOL and CivicAL to improve and understand the nature of migration flow.

Lecturer: Prof. Stefano Mazzoleni from The BioRobotics Institute of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa

Lecturer: Prof. Stefano Mazzoleni from The BioRobotics Institute of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa

By Giulia Bovassi –

Gruppo di Ricerca interdisciplinare in Neurobioetica (GdN)

Masterclass in “Neurobioethics and Roboethics”, 2nd edition, 1st lesson
Lecturer: Prof. Stefano Mazzoleni from The BioRobotics Institute of Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa




The second Masterclass in Neurobioethics “Neurobioethics and Roboethics”, which will be focused this year upon the proposals coming from robotics. Robotics is a large branch of study in continuous and rapid development, not only from the industrial perspective, but also from the medical, family and private ones. Man-machine hybridization has already come about, occupies numerous daily spaces, and raises the ethical and existential questions about what we have to say about this new identity.

GdN, in partnership with the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights and the Science and Faith Institute, hosted in the prestigious academic headquarters of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, has undertaken a watchful, refined interdisciplinary investigation, which will continue during this and the next four years, in order to achieve the best possible result in the professional, academic research, which is dedicated to the new questions that bioethics, philosophy, anthropology, medicine, engineering, law, theology, interreligious and multicultural sciences raise for the today’s man. The studies of the neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero regarding the human head transplantation, have created an intellectual sensation.

Dr. Stefano Mazzoleni, lecturer and Coordinator of the Bioengineering Laboratory of Rehabilitation, through his speech titled “Human-machine interaction: can robots and AI help improve our quality of life, particularly the quality of life of people with disability?”, guided the participants through the logic of robotic engineering applied to the user-help, referring especially to patients who face difficulties managing their daily routine due to their physical limits. The concern for these needs pushes biorobotics in the direction of service, which looks for the good man.
A similar interest in the applications and the ethics of robotics was born recently with the advent of a new engineering oriented to products’ usability, beyond the strictly industrial-mechanical context, to families and citizens’ homes. There is talk of the domestic usage of an entity built to enter into a relationship with the needs of man (an element which has been initially designed almost exclusively to accomplish difficult and complex industrial jobs).

The very origin of the term “robot”, derived from “robota“, refers to heavy work, an index of the nature inherent in the functional-collaborative interaction with human effort, a cooperation that does not (or should not) propose replacement for optimization, namely the efficiency that takes away dignity, but rather should support the thinking subject as the true protagonist. «Observing nature to understand its needs, in the wake of what Leonardo da Vinci has done», educating future engineers in the renaissance model of their profession, so that, seeing trauma or disability, they understand how to take the opportunity to put individual skills at service of others. This fundamental assumption of biorobotics, which has close to its heart the dignity and the good of the person, is absolutely essential; it is indispensable because, without such trajectories, the “ability to make” surrenders to the causes of its birth, namely the “creating know-how” gains the probability of destroying / threatening mankind, a risk that is considered to be therefore acceptable. Cinematography and literature on biorobotics, since the ’80s and decisively surging in the 2000s, suggests new goals. Since 2000, through «bio-inspiration» many capacities not previously explored has taken shape: generation of movement through sensors; wondering why, observing natural and animal bodies to overcome their limits through robotic replication. This progress has led from rigid robotics to neurorobotics and “soft robotics.

Currently, biorobotics explains the medical implant of organs and artificial limbs where they are absent, bringing in close contact doctors, researchers, scientists, engineers whose work will be a qualitative improvement of the life of patients for whom biorobotics will be an advantage. For example, the robotic hand, whose functioning Dr. Mazzoleni has highlighted, and which could be summarized in the interception of the electric impulse, thanks to the study of nerve signals, referring to the intentionality of moving the robotic hand as the human one usually moves. Biorobotics also promises benefits such as smaller incisions, shorter hospitalization, reduced risk of infection, less pain, faster healing times.

Asimov’s “I, Robot” presents a futuristic dystopian vision of distant worlds in which the natural and artificial cohabit a single body, a single identity or dimension. Such works move the collective imagination between nightmare and dream, fear and hope. On the one hand, the expert responds by releasing us from the anxieties related to robot’s autonomy, the exit from the calculated control, the serenity that derives from the construction of a humanoid machine, which can act (according to the dictates of the human) but it is not able to want since they learn what their creator wants to let them know.


Considering the robot as a tool does not scare, but to think of it as similar to the human species does frighten. Prof. Mazzoleni spoke of the “Uncanny valley“, a perturbing valley, a “sudden fall” in that place where we lose the serene familiarity with objects which have a human appearance. The technical aspects and scientific disciplines treated so far have noted the positive contributions of the relationship between man and machine, but they do not remove that feeling of extraneousness and uncertainty. In this context, bioethics is called to take a buffer function thanks to the critical and rational reflection that the dialogue between research fields, near or far, can build when the object is a subject, i.e. the human being. It encourages the beneficial contribution that robotics, together with artificial intelligence, are making and are destined to cultivate. Preventive ethical vigilance should not degenerate into the trivialization of itself. Instead it is necessary to consider the hypothesis that not all philosophical-scientific movements have close to heart the integral good of the human being, so acting according to the measure of the productive, empowering or efficient advantage, even if this should force us to consider the human being as an entity not dissimilar to what everyone wants to find in his own nature, which is as a bastion of innovation. Conversing about the irreplaceable nature of the human presence in collaboration with technology is the proactive strategy implemented by this first, very rich, appointment, whose spirit resides exactly in living what we know, together with what remains ahead.