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In 1993 the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established a Bioethics Programme within the Division of the Ethics of Science and Technology, in the Social and Human Sciences Sector. The Programme is led by the International Bioethics Committee (IBC), consisting of 36 outside experts, and the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee (IGBC), consisting of representatives from 36 member states.

The Bioethics Programme has sponsored three nonbinding international agreements:

1. The Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights was adopted unanimously by the UNESCO General Conference in 1997 and ratified by the UN General Assembly in 1998. The following year, UNESCO approved guidelines for the implementation of the Declaration. It calls for member states to undertake specific actions, such as the prohibition of "practices which are contrary to human dignity, such as reproductive cloning of human beings." It also calls on the IBC to study "practices that could be contrary to human dignity, such as germline interventions."

2. The International Declaration on Human Genetic Data was adopted by UNESCO in 2003. The declaration is intended “to ensure the...