United Nations

A/RES/37/194


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

18 December 1982

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH



                                                   Resolution 37/194
                                                   111th plenary meeting
                                                   18 December 1982
 
 
          37/194.  Principles of Medical Ethics
 
          The General Assembly,
 
          Recalling its resolution 31/85 of 13 December 1976, in which it
     invited the World Health Organization to prepare a draft Code of Medical
     Ethics relevant to the protection of persons subjected to any form of
     detention or imprisonment against torture and other cruel, inhuman or
     degrading treatment or punishment, Official Records of the Economic
     and Social Council, 1982, Supplement No. 2 (E/1982/12 and Corr.1), chap.
     XXVI, sect. A, resolution 1982/44.
 
          Expressing once again its appreciation to the Executive Board of the
     World Health Organization which, as its sixty-third session in January
     1979, decided to endorse the principles set forth in a report entitled
     "Development of codes of medical ethics" containing, in an annex, a draft
     body of principles prepared by the Council for International
     Organizations of Medical Sciences and entitled "Principles of medical
     ethics relevant to the role of health personnel in the protection of
     persons against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
     or punishment",
 
          Bearing in mind Economic and Social Council resolution 1981/27 of 6
     May 1981, in which the Council recommended that the General Assembly
     should take measures to finalize the draft Principles of Medical Ethics
     at its thirty-sixth session,
 
          Recalling its resolution 36/61 of 25 November 1981, in which it
     decided to consider the draft Principles of Medical Ethics at its
     thirty-seventh session with a view to adopting them,
 
          Alarmed that not infrequently members of the medical profession or
     other health personnel are engaged in activities which are difficult to
     reconcile with medical ethics,
 
          Recognizing that throughout the world significant medical activities
     are increasingly being performed by health personnel not licensed or
     trained as physicians, such as physician-assistants, paramedics, physical
     therapists and nurse practitioners,
 
          Taking note with appreciation of the "Guidelines for Medical Doctors
     concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
     Punishment in relation to Detention and Imprisonment", as adopted by the
     twenty-ninth World Medical Assembly, held in Tokyo in October 1975,
 
          Noting that in accordance with the Declaration of Tokyo measures
     should be taken by States and by professional associations and other
     bodies, as appropriate, against any attempt to subject health personnel
     or members of their families to threats or reprisals resulting from a
     refusal by such personnel to condone the use of torture or other forms of
     cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,
 
          Reaffirming the Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from
     Being Subjected to Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
     Treatment or Punishment as unanimously adopted in its resolution 3452
     (XXX) of 9 December 1975, in which it declared any act of torture or
     other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment an offence to
     human dignity, a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the United
     Nations and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
 
          Recalling that, in accordance with article 7 of the Declaration
     adopted under resolution 3452 (XXX), each State shall ensure that the
     commission of all acts of torture, as defined in article 1 of that
     Declaration, or participation in, complicity in, incitement to and
     attempt to commit torture, are offences under its criminal law,
 
          Convinced that under no circumstances a person shall be punished for
     carrying out medical activities compatible with medical ethics regardless
     of the person benefiting therefrom, or shall be compelled to perform acts
     or to carry out work in contravention of medical ethics, but that at the
     same time, contravention of medical ethics for which health personnel,
     particularly physicians, can be held responsible should entail
     accountability,
 
          Desirous to set further standards in this field which ought to be
     implemented by health personnel, particularly physicians, and by
     Government officials:
 
         1.    Adopts the "Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the role
     of health personnel, particularly physicians, in the protection of
     prisoners and detainees against torture and other cruel, inhuman or
     degrading treatment or punishment" annexed to the present resolution;
 
         2.    Calls upon all Governments to give the Principles of Medical
     Ethics, together with the present resolution, the widest possible
     distribution, in particular among medical and paramedical associations,
     and institutions of detention or imprisonment in an official language of
     the State;
 
         3.    Invites all relevant intergovernmental organizations, in
     particular the World Health Organization, and non-governmental
     organizations concerned to bring the Principles of Medical Ethics to the
     attention of the widest possible group of individuals, especially those
     active in the medical and paramedical field.
 
                                    ANNEX
 
         Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the role of health
           personnel, particularly physicians, in the protection of
          prisoners and detainees against torture, and other cruel,
                 inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
 
 
                                 Principle 1
 
               Health personnel, particularly physicians, charged with the
          medical care of prisoners and detainees, have a duty to provide them
          with protection of their physical and mental health and treatment of
          disease of the same quality and standard as is afforded to those who
          are not imprisoned or detained.
 
                                 Principle 2
 
               It is a gross contravention of medical ethics, as well as an
          offence under applicable international instruments, for health
          personnel, particularly physicians, to engage, actively or
          passively, in acts which constitute participation in, complicity in,
          incitement to or attempts to commit torture or other cruel, inhuman
          or degrading treatment or punishment.
 
                                 Principle 3
 
               It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel,
          particularly physicians, to be involved in any professional
          relationship with prisoners or detainees the purpose of which is not
          solely to evaluate, protect or improve their physical and mental
          health.
 
                                 Principle 4
 
               It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel,
          particularly physicians:
 
          To apply their knowledge and skills in order to assist in the
          interrogation of prisoners and detainees in a manner that may
          adversely affect the physical or mental health or condition of such
          prisoners or detainees and which is not in accordance with the
          relevant international instruments;
 
          "1.  For the purpose of this Declaration, torture means any act by
          which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is
          intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public
          official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a
          third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he
          has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating
          him or other persons.  It does not include pain or suffering arising
          only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions to the
          extent consistent with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment
          of Prisoners.
 
          "2.  Torture constitutes an aggravated and deliberate form of cruel,
          inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
 
                Article 7 of the Declaration states:
 
               "Each State shall ensure that all acts of torture as defined in
          article 1 are offences under its criminal law.  The same shall apply
          in regard to acts which constitute participation in, complicity in,
          incitement to or an attempt to commit torture."
 
               (b)
          To certify, or to participate in the certification of, the fitness
          of prisoners or detainees for any form of treatment or punishment
          that may adversely affect their physical or mental health and which
          is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments, or
          to participate in any way in the infliction of any such treatment or
          punishment which is not in accordance with the relevant
          international instruments.
 
                                 Principle 5
 
               It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel,
          particularly physicians, to participate in any procedure for
          restraining a prisoner or detainee unless such a procedure is
          determined in accordance with purely medical criteria as being
          necessary for the protection of the physical or mental health or the
          safety of the prisoner or detainee himself, of his fellow prisoners
          or detainees, or of his guardians, and it presents no hazard to his
          physical or mental health.
 
                                 Principle 6
 
               There may be no derogation from the foregoing principles on any
          ground whatsoever, including public emergency.