Seoul, Republic of Korea

19 June 2013

Secretary-General's video message to 20th session of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC)

His Excellency Mr. Chin Young, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Chairperson Alissandra Cummins, Executive Board of UNESCO, Mr. Stefano Semplici, Chairperson of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO, Mr. Jeong Kap-Young, President of Yonsei University, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to convey greetings to all of you gathered in Seoul for the 20th Session of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO.

This special occasion marks 20 years of ground-breaking actions in bioethics.

Today, your work has never been so important.

In times of change and uncertainty, we must stay true to a moral compass.

The rapid pace of scientific knowledge and technological innovation demonstrates the power of our collective ingenuity.

Stem cell research, genetic testing and personalized medicine open new ways to foster human development and to ensure food security, health or potable water for all.

Yet too many members of the human family are still being left behind.

In our push for progress, we must do everything we can to share the benefits of scientific advancements, especially those whose survival depends on them.

We must also reconcile the tremendous capabilities of science with the basic principles of human dignity.

This ethical responsibility is among the foundations of lasting peace, sustainable development and social justice.

UNESCO plays a leading role in strengthening capacities in this field, and in setting clear guidelines for all on the Human Genome and Genetic Data.

The International Bioethics Committee is the place to facilitate this multicultural and broad bioethical reflection.

Your work can also contribute to current efforts to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and define a post-2015 development agenda.

Thank you for your careful consideration of these important matters.  Please accept my best wishes for a successful meeting.