Original Research

Global bioethics and human rights in an African context: A reformed theological discourse on global bioethics as a new human rights ethos

A.L. Rheeder
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 50, No 1 | a2080 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v50i1.2080 | © 2016 A.L. Rheeder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 January 2016 | Published: 23 September 2016

About the author(s)

A.L. Rheeder, Unit for Reformed Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


The 2005 UNESCO Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights (UDBHR) is specifically aimed at Africa and developing countries from other regions. The acceptance of this UNESCO instrument shows that global bioethics and human rights have become part of the bioethics discourse of today. It is clear that there is a certain affinity between human rights and bioethics, which makes such a link desirable. The value of this link lies in the fact that human rights facilitate a normative universal expansion of bioethical principles. The human rights framework provides bioethical principles with some authority and political influence, an instrument that can protect people in our broken context. Human rights practice and a reformed understanding of natural law both show that humanity can reach consensus on ethical principles such as those found in the UDBHR. Consensus on the theoretical foundation of human rights is not a prerequisite for the successful utilisation of these principles.


Global bioethics; human rights; natural law; UNESCO; Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights


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