Bioethics is one of the hottest topics today. We are all aware of the tremendous advances in medical technology and concerned about the implementation of those advances in our world. While much hope is engendered among us in light of the potential for good, we are rightly wary of its negative potentials.
There is an increasing awareness of the need to adequately address novel bioethical issues with knowledge and responsibility that respect the dignity and rights of every human individual. At the same time, there is a need to engage these questions in a creative manner, anticipating and addressing the issues proactively rather than reactively.
Based on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations has come to the fore in the debate with the publication of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights in 2005. Above all, it confirms the universal importance of bioethics and the topics and problems studied by this discipline born 40 years ago.
Human rights are universal in the sense that they affect all of us – doctors and biologists, but also politicians and lawmakers, journalists, priests, etc. – and society in general. Universal also insofar as these problems now are perceived and studied in all geographic and cultural areas of the world. Galloping globalization has undoubtedly contributed to this phenomenon.
Aware of the importance of these issues, the present UNESCO Chair on Bioethics and Human Rights has chosen its seat in Rome. The choice of this location is not coincidental. Rome is the cradle of Western civilization and the birth place of civil law. It is also a major religious center, heart of Christianity. Besides, several important Human Rights Conventions were signed in Rome.