GS Paper 4
Syllabus: International Ethics, Medical Ethics
Context: The European Union’s (EU) executive arm proposed to create an ethics body that would set up common rules of conduct for institutions after the cash-for-influence scandal.
- With the establishment of the Ethics Body there will, for the first time, be common standards for the ethical conduct of members and a formal mechanism for coordination and exchange of views on ethical requirements among institutions.
The new Body will have three main tasks:
- Develop common minimum standards– applicable to the members of participating EU Institutions and bodies, as well as update them when needed.
- Exchange of views on each institution’s internal rules in light of the standards to allow them to learn and benefit from each other’s experience.
- Promote a common ethics culture of all members of EU institutions, facilitating the public understanding of the framework both to those inside and outside the institutions. Transparency will apply also to the application of these rules in the institutions.
The standards will relate to several fields:
- acceptance of gifts, hospitality and travel offered by third parties
- conditionality and transparency measures, in particular for meetings with interest representatives: the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council already have common standards as regards meetings with interest representatives and their publication thanks to the Transparency Register.
- interests and assets to be declared, establishing the categories, as well as the procedures applied to check these declarations.
- side or external activities, in order to ensure that members’ availability and independence are not compromised.
- post-mandate activities of former members, establishing conditions, and transparency requirements.
- implementation of the common framework, including monitoring compliance and follow-up, also as regards possible cases of harassment and sanctions, in case of breaches within each institution.
- on the publicity of information: each institution will need to make public how they apply the standards.
Other measures taken with respect to Ethical Standards:
- Code of Conduct for the Members of the European Commission
UNESCO to develop an ethical framework on neurotech devices
Context: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is all set to host an international conference to develop an ethical framework for the usage of neurotech devices that feed brain-wave data to computers through dry electrodes and implants.
- It will be guided by a report by UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee on the “Ethical Issues of Neurotechnology.”
Neurotechnology could help solve many health issues, but it could also access and manipulate people’s brains, and produce information about our identities, and our emotions. It could threaten our rights to human dignity, freedom of thought and privacy,
- Neurotechnology covers any kind of device or procedure which is designed to “access, monitor, investigate, assess, manipulate, and/or emulate the structure and function of neural systems”.
- Neurotechnological devices range from “wearables”, to non-invasive brain-computer interfaces such as robotic limbs, to brain implants currently being developed with the goal of treating disabilities such as paralysis.