The Gobal Summit


Every two years, the Global Summit of National Ethics Committees brings together representatives from National Ethics and Bioethics and other advisory bodies from countries all over the world for an event of seminal strategic importance, representing a unique opportunity to foster international debate and to build consensus on priority issues of global interest in the fields of Bioethics.

The objectives of the Global Summit are:


To bring together the National and International Ethics/Bioethics Committees/Commissions/Advisory Bodies from around the world in relation to bioethical issues;


To serve as an international forum for exchanges and debate on bioethical issues of common global interest, based on a state of the art of the chosen topics;


To contribute both to common understanding and consensus building between nations;


To assist those nations to develop their national bioethical framework and guidelines;


To provide the space and opportunity to convene regional forums of National Ethics/Bioethics Committees;




Under the theme of “Bioethics, Sustainable Development and Societies”, this Summit focused on the following topics: Bioethics, social justice and civil society, Bioethics in electronic data era, Bioethics, health emergencies and resilience. There were participants from 71 countries. The participants in the 12th Global Summit of National Ethics/Bioethics Committees agreed on a joint “Call for Action”. WHO welcomes this statement.

The biennial forum was attended by 125 participants and brought together representatives of National Ethics Committees of 83 countries. The Summit theme, Global Health, Global Ethics, Global Justice, set the stage for plenary discussions on emerging and converging technologies; epidemics and outbreaks – introducing WHO draft guidelines; bioethical policies and bioethical law; and raising social awareness on bioethical issues including education, media and communications.

More than 50 representatives from over 30 countries attended the 10th Global Summit held in Mexico on 22-24 June 2014. Items on the agenda included new health technologies and universal health coverage. The WHO is the permanent secretariat for the summit and organized this event in conjunction with the Mexican Ministry of Health.

Hosted by the Tunisian National Ethics Committee the Ninth Global Summit addressed a range of ethical topics. Items on the agenda included research ethics, biobanks, ethical issues in organ, tissue and cell transplantation as well as the ethics of the care and control of infectious diseases.

Representatives from 33 countries and 4 regional and international organizations were brought together to debate on the ethical issues in organ, tissue and cell transplantation, research ethics committees and tuberculosis (TB) control, biobanks, and synthetic biology. In order to ensure continuity between the Global Summits, it was decided to establish four Working Groups on priority issues.

Hosted by the French National Consultative Ethics Committee for Health and Life Sciences, the Seventh Global Summit addressed ten separate topics including ethics and cultural diversity; transplantation of organs and tissue; digital health records; ethics committees and public policy. Representatives from 33 participating countries made presentations on the work of their committees, followed by a plenary discussion.

The Sixth Global Summit was held in conjunction with the Eighth World Congress of Bioethics. Representatives from 18 different countries participated and commented on a wide variety of ethical topics. In plenary sessions, delegates discussed neuroethics and the ethical concerns surrounding understanding and manipulating the human mind as well as the ethics of catastrophes. Deliberation in further plenary sessions focused on databases and personal health information in addition to considering topics on the horizon for national bioethics advisory bodies.

Participants heard presentations from national bioethics committees from various countries; 14 countries were able to present on past or ongoing projects. Several participants stressed the value of learning from other countries about shared problems and how they have attempted to address them. Such opportunities are central to the purpose of bringing together the national bioethics committees.

The Fifth summit was organized by the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) in conjunction with the World Congress of Bioethics (9-12 November 2004 in Sydney). Like the previous meetings, this summit consisted both of reports by national committees about their work as well as discussions of selected bioethics topics of broad interest. Two workshop sessions were held and a total of 36 delegates participated.

Participants from 27 nations discussed a wide range of issues that had arisen in their national deliberations. In addition to a plenary discussion of the ethics and policy options surrounding human stem cell research, they held breakout sessions on the use of biological samples for research, pharmacogenetics, the patenting of DNA, the role of the media, cell and DNA databases (Summary of Brasilia Global Summit). At the close of the Global Summit, the participants adopted the Brasilia Communiqué, which expressed their common determination to advance the field and to reconvene for further exchange of views and collaboration.

The third meeting of the Global Summit was held at the invitation of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and the U.K. Department of Health along with the U.S. and French national commissions. Thirty-six nations were represented (with the greatest increase coming from the newly established European national commissions), along with a dozen international.

Desiring to continue the process begun at the first meeting, Harold T. Shapiro, Chair of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission, and Dr. Jean-Pierre Changeux, Chair of France’s Comité Consultatif National d’Ethique, joined by Dr. Hiroo Imura, Chair of the Japanese Bioethics Commission, convened a two-day meeting in Tokyo that brought together Delegates and Observers from more than 30 countries and 6 international organizations.

Like the first meeting, the Second International Summit was held in conjunction with a World Congress of Bioethics. At the end of the lively roundtable discussions, the participants decided to formally establish the “Global Summit of National Bioethics Commissions” as an on-going organization to foster progress on subjects of mutual interest to the national bioethics advisory bodies. They also identified a number of issues of mutual interest (Tokyo Communiqué).

In the summer of 1996, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission recently appointed by President Clinton asked the French National Consultative Committee on Ethics to join in inviting the other national bioethics committees to send delegates to an international summit meeting to be held in San Francisco in conjunction with the III World Congress of Bioethics at the end of November 1996. Delegates representing 18 nations, as well as observers from six international bodies participated in this first global meeting.

Some of the countries had specialized national commissions, others were represented by a professional association’s ethics group, and a few by a health ministry official. The delegates, from the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe discussed their differences in scope, sponsorship, and national cultures but found many areas of common interest in bioethics, and resolved to continue their dialogue.