Observatory for Comparative Bioethics
Bioethics experts and scholars commonly agree with the premise that the challenges arising in one part of the world have the potential to affect the rest of humanity. In this respect, challenges for national health systems having a world-wide impact (as we witnessed it during the COVID-19 pandemic) do not constitute the sole threat. The spread of particular biomedical technologies and more complex biopolitical practices is also gaining global significance. Therefore, it is essential to examine the risks that arise in countries that claim a ‘distinctive path’ for developing bioethics and biotechnology.

The precedence of domestic regulations over international regulations in contemporary Russia and Belarus is increasingly interpreted as an opportunity to disregard even basic international ethical texts, such as the Declaration of Helsinki. Bioethical discussions are often absorbed or displaced by discourses on biosecurity, demographic policy, and technological competition with ‘unfriendly countries’. Public dialogue on bioethical issues has actually stopped due to threats to the career and freedom of potential participants and because the number of venues for such dialogue shrinks rapidly. In this situation, it is vital to preserve the international partnership, enabling comparative analysis at the benefit of all sides of dialog.

In today’s Russia and Belarus, women’s reproductive freedom, patients’ rights to confidentiality of their medical data, and the very possibility to safely seek medical care are in danger. The project of collecting the genetic material of citizens, of ethnic minorities particularly, and a requirement to remove legal barriers to human genome editing indicate the ambition to create new forms of biopolitics. Genetics and immunology have increasingly become a source of metaphors for administrative interventions into culture and education. In turn, new biopolitical strategies are supported with arguments based on an ideology of cultural and political exceptionalism that provides carte blanche to violate accepted international standards and practices.

In this circumstance, we - bioethicists, philosophers, and researchers in medical humanities - have decided to establish an Observatory for Comparative Bioethics to monitor, identify and analyze the causes, features, and potential consequences of the processes described above.
Bioethical discussions are akin to democracy in vitro. We hope that the open and transparent work of our Observatory will serve as one of the cornerstones of the development of civil society in the future of Russia and Belarus.

The main objective of our work is to provide an independent analysis of the ethical and legal regulation of medicine, healthcare, biotechnology and biopolitical practices that involve both human and non-human beings.
  1. Analysis of recently adopted and drafted Russian and Belarusian ethical and legal regulation of health care, biotechnology, and environmental management from the perspective of their compliance with international bioethical norms; their comparison with trends in the development of bioethics in various countries.
  2. Collection of, and open discussion on, of Russian and Belarusian bioethical cases.
  3. Analysis of the trends and emerging modes of biopolitics and biosociality; assessment of associated regional and global, social and humanitarian risks.
The Observatory is an international group of experts in bioethics, health care, medical law, philosophical anthropology and medical humanities, which conducts a systematic comparative analysis of the ethical and legal regulation of medicine, health care, biopolitical practices that involves both humans and non-humans.

The main deliverables resulting from the Observatory’s work will be:
  • analytical reports and recommendations,
  • scholarly articles and monographs,
  • publications in media (including social media),
  • academic round tables, seminars and public discussions.
Aims and Scope
Key Areas of Research
[1] Ten Have, H. (2022). The challenges of global bioethics. Global Bioethics 33(1), 41-44.
[5] Paul Rabinow a proposé d’appeler cette forme émergente “biosocialité”. Rabinow, P. (1992). Artificiality and enlightenment: from sociobiology to biosociality. In The Ethics of Biotechnology (pp. 101-122). Routledge.
[7] Hyun, I. (2017). Bioethics: Democracy in vitro. Nature 541, 462–463.
Members: Alexey Zhavoronkov, Volha Davydzik, Nadzeya Ilyushenka, Anna Ozhiganova
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Join the association
We welcome you to join the Independent Institute of Philosophy Association if you share our values of liberty, oppose Russia's invasion of Ukraine, are eager to promote the development of critical philosophical thought, and are open to international collaboration in the social sciences and humanities.
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