Medical Ethics in the 70 Years after the Nuremberg Code, 1947 to the Present
Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift
Ethics has been an integral part of medicine since ancient times. However, the atrocities committed as part of Nazi medicine necessitated a novel approach, resulting in a framework of modern bioethical standards. Since World War II, we have witnessed a broad movement towards the introduction of normative regulations for medical research. This trend initially started with the Nuremberg Medical Trials and the "Nuremberg Code" of 1947, followed by the Helsinki Declaration of the World Medical
... iation of 1964, including later modifications and amendments. Furthermore there are relevant recommendations issued by the organs of the Council of Europe and by the World Health Organisation, the UNESCO Declarations and EU legislation, to name only the most important examples. Since the 1970s, the rapid and global development of the life sciences, with its unprecedented possibilities to interfere with basic aspects of human life, for example in reproductive medicine, has led to an even greater necessity to confront bioethical questions worldwide. The HIV pandemic burdening the Global South has required conducting research in different areas of the world and involving especially vulnerable populations. In view of these developments, the main topic of the conference was the influence of Nazi medical crimes, the Nuremberg Medical Trial and the resulting Nuremberg Code on the development of international bioethical norms, including the enduring impact of this legacy on today's medical research. In the 70 years since the promulgation of the Code, the world has changed: Research is based on the principles of exchange and cooperation, researchers are mobile, the internet provides a supporting framework removing national barriers. Although the European situation, with special attention to Austria, was part of the discussion, an important focus of the conference was on the role played by international organisations and their endeavours to establish normative standards for clinical research with a worldwide reach.