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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Human rights and the 'Declaration of Helsinki': law and ethics in dialogue: a South African perspective
Author:Van Wyk, Christa
Periodical:South African Yearbook of International Law
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:professional ethics
medical sciences
medical research
Abstract:The author's involvement with the interaction between law and ethics results from her membership of the ethics committee of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in South Africa. She describes how law and ethics interact, how international ethics guidelines can be used to interpret legal instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the South African Constitution, and how such interpretation will in turn be reflected in national ethics guidelines. She shows that the rights of legally incompetent persons and the legitimate interests of medical research can be balanced by having recourse to sections 36 and 39 of the South African Constitution. Nontherapeutic research may be reasonable and justifiable, provided that clear and precise rules are in place regarding the level of risk to be tolerated and the nature of the research involved. The 2000 version of the Declaration of Helsinki could have made a greater contribution to this interpretative process had it provided precise ethical guidance on the inclusion of incompetent research subjects in nontherapeutic research, instead of referring back to national law. South African law currently has no legislative provision governing nontherapeutic research on incompetent people, although past practice has been to allow this kind of research and to provide therefor in ethics guidelines. Notes, ref.