The International Chair in Bioethics (ICB)
On June 24th 2001 an agreement was signed by the Director-General of UNESCO and the Rector of the Haifa University, Israel, concerning the establishment of a UNESCO Chair in Bioethics at the International Center of Health, Law and Ethics, University of Haifa. Article 2 of the Agreement defined the purpose of the Chair: To coordinate and stimulate an International Network of Institutes for Medical Ethics Training, associating higher education institutes in both the developed and developing countries, and to develop an up-to-date syllabus for medical ethics education which will satisfy the requirements of medical schools in the world.
The reason for that important initiative resulted from two international researches carried out by the International Centre Center for Health, Law and Ethics in 1996 and 2001 under the guidance of Prof. Carmi (see below). The aim of the project was to check whether the lack of proper teaching of ethics in medical schools was one of the reasons for the deterioration in the relationship between doctors and patients. Apparently, the findings offered a validation to this assumption and brought about the establishment of an international Steering Committee that undertook the mission of preparing a new method for ethics education.
The aim of the project was to form a new, modern curriculum of medical ethics to be taught in medical schools all over the world. The Committee consisted of six members : Prof. A. Carmi (chairperson), Prof. M. Cotler (USA), Mr. S. Fluss (WHO), Dr. G. Kutukdjian(UNESCO), Prof. A. Okasha (WPA), and Prof. N. Sartorius (WPA).
The committee has formulated a new curriculum for teaching ethics. The methodology was discussed among more than 150 professionals from around the world. The committee forwarded the updated methodology for discussion at UNESCO. UNESCO decided to adopt the methodology. UNESCO established the Chair, authorized it to promote this methodology around the world, and placed Prof. Carmi at the head of the chair.
The Chair started to establish a network of Units within academic institutes committed to disseminating, improving and monitoring education in ethics in medical schools. In addition, the Chair developed an updated and modern curriculum, reflecting the need for integration of ethics in daily practice, increasing interest and respect to values involved in health care delivery and raising awareness for competing interests. Students are introduced to various non-medical facets of medicine: sociology, psychology, economics, and public administration. The Chair develops novel, modern and sophisticated educational tools and materials that facilitate attractive teaching. The Chair produces a series of training manuals. Each manual contains actual cases, up to thirty in number, which present ethical dilemmas to members of the medical profession all over the world. The cases are preceded by a general description of the type of ethical problems involved and each case is followed by general guidelines for the edification of students who must themselves, under the guidance of their lecturer, study the case, discuss the possible solutions and reject what they consider unsuitable before reaching their own decision.
The Chair holds world conferences: 2000 (Israel, Eilat), 2002 ( Israel, Eilat), 2004 ( Israel, Eilat), 2005 (Israel, Haifa), 2007 (Israel, Eilat), 2009 (Israel, Zefat), 2010 (Israel, Zefat), 2011 (Singapore), 2012 (Israel, Kinar), 2013 (Italy, Napoli), 2015 (Israel, Jerusalem), 2017 (Italy, Napoli), (Cyprus, Limassol), 2018 (Israel, Jerusalem), 2022 (Portugal, Porto).
The Chair runs a lot of Departments and Continental Divisions, including inter alia an International Forum of Teachers (IFT), Education Department, Research Department, Department of Law, Biolaw Department, Professional Autonomy Department, Holocaust Department, Youth and Children Department, the Chair’s Newsletter, the PhD on Bioethics Division, Palliative Care Department, the Monthly Case Department, the Behavioural Bioethics Department, the Bioethics and Art Department, the Bioethics and Film Department, the Scientific Literature Review Department, the World Bioethics Day Department, the Website Department, the Department of Bioethics and Philosophical Approach to Law and the International Network of Units Department.
The above agreement with UNESCO has expired, and the Chair has become an independent international organization. The Chair is recognized by leading international organizations. An agreement of cooperation was signed between the Chair and the World Medical Association (WMA) as well as with other international bodies.