Global health ethics

Advisory Committee on Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing - call for contribution

The call for contribution is now closed

The World Health Organization (WHO) has established a global, multi-disciplinary expert panel to examine the scientific, ethical, social and legal challenges associated with human genome editing (both somatic and germline). The Committee includes members from Africa, Americas, South-East Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean and Western Pacific.

The Committee has been tasked to advise and make recommendations on appropriate institutional, national, regional and global governance mechanisms for human genome editing. During the course of its work, the Committee will review literature on current human genome editing research and its applications, consider existing proposals for governance and relevant ongoing initiatives, as well as solicit information about societal attitudes towards the different uses of this technology. The Committee will explore how best to promote transparent and trustworthy practices and how to ensure appropriate assessments are performed prior to any relevant work being undertaken.

At its first meeting, the Committee stressed the need to work transparently and inclusively to strengthen arrangements for responsible stewardship of human genome editing. To this end, the Committee requested WHO’s Director General to enhance capacity to share information with, and collect information from, both technical and lay audiences. The Committee is continuing to work on a more structured mechanism for collecting and curating details of planned and ongoing research relevant to its work, including standards and practices for the responsible stewardship of science, as well as attributes of effective governance frameworks.

WHO has responded and is exploring multiple new approaches, including strengthen how it uses its website. This portal is intended to provide an open-ended mechanism for anyone with access to the internet to contribute to the work of the Committee. The Committee is seeking views from all relevant stakeholders on the themes of its work, who should be involved, what governance measures might look like, particular opinions held by different communities, as well as anything else you feel they should know. Contributions made via the portal will be collated and discussed at the next meeting of the Committee. Individual responses to comments will not be possible but all contributions will be made available to the Committee. The deadline for submitting views via this mechanism will be 18 August 2019. Please note that there will be further opportunities to feed into the deliberations of the Committee through an upcoming online consultation.