Bioethical Initiatives

On June 6–7, 2019, the 11th session of IGBC, the Inter-Governmental Bioethics Committee, was held at UNESCO headquarters. The topical issues of artificial intelligence, personal & social responsibility for human health, and the principles of human reproductive health were actively discussed. The Russian delegation took an active part in the session.

Various expert groups of UNESCO committees in the first half of 2019 intensively exchanged views on bioethics problems. The UNESCO structure includes three committees: IBC (Inter­national Bioethics Committee), IGBC (Inter-­Governmental Bioethics Committee), and, finally, COMEST (Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology). In March and June, all of them held sittings on the main provisions preparation of the most actual projects.

The participation of Russian delegation in the IGBC 11th session became a desired event. At that, the official visit of the UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azule to Moscow and Kazan, and her meeting with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin had a certain meaning. The items of Russia active participation in UNESCO projects were raised at this meeting. Particular attention was focused at the works of our scientists in the field of artificial intelligence, the new technologies of pedagogical process. Vladimir Putin turned attention to the initiative, launched by the UNESCO Commission at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia — the release of library in 10 volumes, dedicated to bioethics items. Delegates of the IGBC 11th session took an interest in two leaders meeting results.

The first item, which was discussed in Paris, concerned the recommendations for scientific research and the scientist’s ethics. This important document, based on 50 international declarations and consensuses, should help teachers and students to prepare themselves for the scientific research implementation. An agreement on the recommendations translation into Russian was reached.

The great discussion was caused by the project concerning the human reproductive activi­ty and the modern conceptions of parenthood and their responsibility towards the new children generation. The document will be presented at the UNESCO conference in November 2019. Most delegates of the 11th session concluded that at present moment this document should comply with the criteria for scientific analysis of the problem.

At the November conference, it is planned to adopt the recommendations on the artificial intelligence research, as well. In May, a global conference on pedagogical projects of artificial intelligence was held in Beijing, which caused a great resonance in the world. Delegates from many countries shared their experience in government programs, concerning the technology development and implementation in their countries.

The controversy on the draft recommendation, concerning the person’s responsibility for his health and the responsibility of society for citizens’ health promotion programs, aroused a keen interest. The discussion has affected the UNESCO and WHO experts’ interaction; the item, concerning the single document of these organizations development, was discussed. Attention was paid to the 11th revision of the ICD (International Classification of Diseases) also, which is being implemented actively and everywhere, as well.

It is noted in the WHO strategy that its priority is the fight against chronic non-contagious diseases. They are united by the same risk factors: smoking, obesity, excessive consumption of salt, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates. Five concepts of a person’s responsibility for its health are considered within the recommendation draft. Their implementation is the real trend, and the preventive program implementation will allow to reduce mortality significantly and to affect on the demographic indicators qualitatively.

Preliminary recommendations, prepared by experts, working in UNESCO committees, are planned to be considered at the general conference.

Alexander Chuchalin, Chairperson of the Russian Committee on Bioethics, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Medicine, Professor, Head of the Hospital Therapy Department of the Pirogov Medical Univercity