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May 17, 1999

Chancellor Greenwood participates in first meeting of United Nations commission on ethics and science

By Tim Stephens

Chancellor Greenwood travelled to Oslo, Norway, in April to participate in the first meeting of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology. She was the only representative of the United States in this high-level international delegation.

The commission, chaired by former president of Iceland Vigdis Finnbogadottir, was established by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) to encourage public debate on ethical values and to play a mediating role between the scientific community and the general public.

Chancellor Greenwood took part in a session that addressed the protection of the rights and freedoms of scientists. Other sessions examined ethical issues raised in the fields of energy, freshwater resources, and the information society.

The meeting brought together some 150 participants from 50 countries, including representatives of UNESCO member states, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, and scientific academies and universities from around the world.

UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor called the commission's efforts the first international attempt at ethical foresight. "Its groundbreaking task is to anticipate ethical issues and to recommend ways to build an ethical dimension into science and technology research and development from an early stage," Mayor said.

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