Vigdis Finnbogadottir Named As Chair Of Future World Commission On The Ethics Of Scientific Knowledge And Technology

January 15, 1998

Paris, January 13 - UNESCO Director-General Federico has named Vigdís Finnbogadottir, the former President of Iceland, chairperson of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology.

During a meeting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris yesterday afternoon, Ms Finnbogadottir also accepted Mr Mayor's request to advise him on the composition and statutes of the international commission whose creation was recommended by the ruling body of UNESCO, the General Conference, at its last session last November.

Accepting the post, Ms Finnbogadottir said to the Director-General: "I share your view that it is necessary at this time to have a commission to open the debate and to show the world that what happens to water and to energy, for example, and where information is getting us are not matters of indifference."

Mr Mayor insisted that the ethical dimension of science and technology could not be underestimated. "If you create awareness you can find solutions," he said arguing that the failure of Agenda 21 (the Rio Earth Summit) was due to the fact that it only concerned itself with technical issues and failed to tackle the ethical dimension of environmental protection.

The General Conference requested Mr Mayor to set up the World Commission so as "to promote ethical, multidisciplinary and multicultural reflection on a number of situations that might become a risk to society as a result of advances in science and technology."

In choosing Ms Finnbogadottir to work on setting up the Commission, Mr Mayor requested her to advise him "on the terms of reference and composition of the future World Commission, and propose the names of 20 or so persons prominent in scientific, legal, philosophical, cultural and political circles from all parts of the world, for membership of the Commission."

Ms Finnbogadottir and Mr Mayor agreed that the Commission should be able to invite new members to join it in its work on specific issues and that its meetings should take place in different parts of the world to help it maintain awareness of the concerns experienced by all regions of the globe.

Mr Mayor proposed that the World Commission's focus on three major concerns: the ethics of energy, the ethics of the use of freshwater resources and the ethics of the information society as well as bioethics.

Mr Mayor has placed UNESCO's Bioethics Unit at Ms Finnbogadottir's disposal to assist her in her work.

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UNESCO

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