Bioethics: PACE members must act as guardians of the Oviedo Convention

“As members of the Parliamentary Assembly, we must act in our national parliaments as vigilant guardians of the Oviedo Convention’s standards,” PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier has said, addressing participants at a seminar on public debate as a tool for the governance of new technologies taking place today at the Council of Europe.

She pointed out that PACE has reiterated the principle inscribed in the Oviedo Convention – which requires States Parties to ensure that the fundamental issues raised by developments in biology and medicine are the subject of appropriate public debate – in several of its reports, recommending this approach when it comes to new technologies and artificial intelligence in general.

“Public debate is not only important when it comes to developments related to new technologies, but also when legislation on bioethical issues is no longer in line with societal or legal developments,” she underlined.

She also called for an “open” and “inclusive” public debate which is genuinely “adversarial” while being “guided by respect for the fundamental standards to which we all adhere”. These standards are set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, she pointed out, as well as in the case-law of the Strasbourg Court and in the many other legal instruments developed within the Council of Europe.