1997-2017: 20 years after the Oviedo Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine: What are the achieved gains and its potential?

May 19, 2017

December 8, 2017 – December 9, 2017 all-day
European University Cyprus, Cultural Center
Diogenes Street, Engomi, Nicosia
Theodoros Trokanas

The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (commonly referred to as the Oviedo Convention) defines a general framework for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms with regards to the applications of biology and medicine. It lays down a series of principles and prohibitions concerning bioethics, medical research, consent, rights to private life and information, organ transplantation, genetics, etc.

Since the opening of the Treaty in 1997, only 35 member-states of the Council of Europe have signed it, 29 of which having also ratified it. For the remaining member-states of the Council of Europe signature and ratification are still pending. During the decade 1998 and 2008 and under the provisions of article 31 of the Convention, 5 Additional Protocols have been drawn up to expand the range of its general principles. What has happened since? Has the Convention and its Protocols really strengthened individual rights in the healthcare setting?

20 Years after the opening, academics and professionals from different perspectives (law, medicine, ethics, sociology, and economics) will meet, discussing the main and latest developments in Biomedicine during a two-day conference. Topics open for discussion include:

A. General

– What is the impact of the Convention on national legislation and practices as well as its impact on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights
– How do member states apply the Convention’s reservations
– Why is it that ‘only’ 29 member states have ratified the Convention, since it was open for signature in 1997?
– What is the impact of the five Additional Protocols today?

B. Equal Access to Health Care

– What is the relevance of the Convention when introducing austerity measures limiting equal access to health care services and goods;
– Privatization of health care services and equal access
– Health care rationing and the notion of progressive realization
– The justiciability of the Convention’s right to health care

C. New Reproductive Technologies (NRTs)

– How does the Convention affect innovations in reproductive technologies?
– Divergence of regulatory systems on NRTs and the European fertility market
– Surrogacy contracts: ?s there a market for outsourcing pregnancy?
– What is the interface between medically assisted reproduction and genetics, including preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS)?
– Direct to Consumer Genetic Tests and Reproduction

D. Embryo Research and Genome Editing

– Ethics of embryo-editing research
– CRISPR-Cas9, human germline modification
– Is the Convention’s ban on modifying the human genome sustainable?
– How will the Convention faces future challenges such as germ therapy, stem cell research, etc. threatening human rights?

E. Organ Transplants

– The concept of consent (esp. opt-in vs opt-out systems in national legislations)
– Does the Convention adequately protect the living donor and the recipient?
– Prohibition of financial gain arising directly out of the donation
– Medical Organ ‘tourism’
– Convergence of quality and safety standards of human organs intended for transplantation

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