There is a general consensus, based on the European Convention
on Human Rights and the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights
and Biomedicine,that a capable
adult patient must not be manipulated and that his or her will,
when clearly expressed, must prevail even if it signifies refusal
of treatment: no-one can be compelled to undergo medical treatment
against his or her will. If a patient is not, at the time of the
intervention, in a state to express his or her wishes, they “shall
be taken into account” if they had been previously expressed. These
wishes can be formalised by advance directives, living wills or
continuing powers of attorney.
All member states should put into place and implement legislation
in this field to guarantee people’s human rights and dignity, based
on the Council of Europe acquis and on a set of principles outlined
in this report. Council of Europe standards in this field should
be developed further in accordance with these principles.