Scientific & Technology Ethics
Since it’s establishment in 1946, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been concerned with moral issues relating to science. The first Director of UNESCO, Julian Huxley’s opinion was that in order to make science contribute to peace, security and human welfare, it would be necessary to relate the applications of science to a general scale of values. His view of guiding the development of science for the benefit of humanity would therefore imply ‘the quest for a restatement of morality in harmony with modern knowledge’ (Huxley,1946). Today, as the leading international agency for ethics in science and technology, UNESCO investigates current and emerging issues such as: Nanotechnology, bioethics, human cloning, stem cell research, etc.
There is revolution in science and technology, which leads to an interest about scientific progress not always being ethically tolerable. Common values, benchmarks, and promoting ethical principles and standards is critical, especially in developing countries, as those countries do not equally have the opportunity to use these technological advances. UNESCO’s work in ethics of science and technology reflects these global concerns, they analyze new technology, looking at ethical considerations (cultural, legal, philosophical) of various populations, and then make recommendations for the many decision-makers, as well as develop ethical guidelines, standards and legal instruments.
The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) was began in 1998, by UNESCO. This 18-member body is made up of prominent and independent scientists from many disciplines, and other experts from different regions of the world. They are appointed by the Director-General of UNESCO for a 4 year term. COMEST is mandated to be an international advisory body and an intellectual forum for sharing ideas and skills. Together, the encourag the scientific society to examine basic ethical questions and to become aware of the early signs of risk situations. COMEST create ethical principles that can shed light on the various choices and impacts brought about by new technologies. They advise decision-makers on policy issues and promotes communication between the international scientific community, government and the public concerning topics such as ethics and space technology, ethics and energy, and ethical issues in relation to water use, which have led to widely distributed publications.