International Conference on Human Rights and Biomedicine, Venue: Rotterdam, the Netherlands, 10-12 December 2008


The Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (officially, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine, 1997) stipulated the legal principles which are binding on the field of medicine and biology. Together with the European Convention on Human Rights, it is one of the leading treaty documents passed by the Council of Europe.

The Biomedicine Convention is the first international document formulating guiding principles on: equitable access to healthcare; informed consent; organ transplanting and the use of substances of human origin; medical research on human beings; the protection of the human embryo and fetus, and the use of medical information.

Since 1997, the member states of the Council of Europe started the process of ratification that commits them to make their laws compatible with the principles and requirements of this document. Since the Dutch government is expected to ratify the Convention, the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Erasmus University Medical Center organize an international conference starting at international Human Rights Day (10 December 2008).

Conference on Biomedicine and Human Rights

During the conference eminent scholars from a variety of disciplines (medicine, law, ethics, philosophy) will discuss the meaning of the Convention’s underlying principles and fundamental rights in health care, contemporary dilemmas in health care (policy) and the Convention’s impact on national health legislation and daily practice. The conference provides an opportunity for discussion among scholars and practitioners in Europe on emerging issues in biomedicine and human rights.


Bring together researchers in the fields of bio-medicine, ethics and law
Discussion on contemporary issues in Biomedicine and Human rights
Develop and distribute conference proceedings as an information source for use of researchers, practitioners, legislators, and government policy officials and other interested persons
Development of an international network for interdisciplinary exchange of information on Biomedicine and Human rights
Monitor the developments in the field of Biomedicine and human rights.

Structure and topics of discussion

Lectures and panel presentations are paired with group-sessions, allowing in-depth exploration of issues and personal interaction with top academic experts and other participants. The sessions chosen include:

  • Equitable access to health care,
  • Organ transplantation,
  • Clinical trials
  • Patients’ rights,
  • Genetics and Health care rights,
  • Bioethics in post-communist countries and
  • Bioethics: a feminist view

During the conference, poster sessions will be organized to highlight their research outcomes on Human Rights and Biomedicine, and to share their successful ideas with colleagues.

Keynote Speakers (confirmed):

  • Opening: Prof. P. Peters, Member of the Dutch Senate
  • Prof. T. Beauchamp, professor of Philosophy Georgetown University, Kennedy Institute of Ethics (USA) (public lecture)
  • Prof. J. Harris, professor of Bioethic, University of Manchester (UK) (Public Lecture)
  • Prof. C. Casabona, professor of Penal Law, Director of the Inter-University chair of Law and the Human Genome, University of Deusto and University of The Basque Country, (Spain)
  • Dr. E. Kompanje, Clinical Ethicist, Erasmus MC/University Medical Center Rotterdam (NL)
  • Dr. H. ten Have, Director Division of Ethics of Science and Technology UNESCO
  • Prof. H. Nys, Director of the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, KU Leuven (Belgium)
  • Dr. C. de Sola, Head of Health and Bioethics Department, Council of Europe
  • Prof. T. Stoltzfus Jost, professor of health law, Washington and Lee University (USA).
  • Prof. R. Lawson, holding the Kirchheiner chair (Protection of the integrity of the individual), Leiden University (NL)
  • Dr. R. Andorno, senior research fellow, Institute of Biomedical Ethics,
    University of Zurich (CH)
  • Prof. E. Doppelfeld, professor emeritus of Medical Ethics, University of Bonn (Germany)
  • Dr. R. Reusser, Council of Europe Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI), (CH)
  • Prof. M. Sutrop, professor of Philosophy, University of Tartu (EE)
  • Prof. H. Lindemann, professor of medical ethics, Michigan State University (USA)
  • Prof. Dr. W. Deville, senior researcher Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), (NL)
  • Prof. G. J. van Ommen, Center for Human and Clinical Genetics, Leiden University Medical Center (NL)

Agenda of the Conference

  • Opening Ceremony – Plenary session – Public lecture
  • Topical sessions on Equitable access to health care, Organ transplantation, Clinical trials, and Patients’ rights
  • Poster presentations
  • Concluding plenary session
  • Breakfast Session from Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH)

(Preliminary) Programme


All persons wishing to participate in the Conference are requested to complete the participation form. The complete form should be send to the organizers. Registration form

Participation cost

A fee of € 75 is charged to participants.
Student fee: € 25 The conference registration fee covers all of the following: admission to all conference sessions, a conference book and refreshments.

Submitting a Poster Abstract

If you wish to submit a poster for the Conference, you must be booked as a delegate. To apply to present a poster, please send an e-mail to André den Exter ( with the following information:

  • Name, institution and contact details
  • Title of the Poster
  • A brief abstract of your poster (no longer than 150 words)

Promotion of Young Scholars

To this end, postgraduate students and early career researchers who are registered for the Conference are invited to present posters on their work, thereby giving them a unique opportunity to showcase their research in a visual format and contribute to the generation of ideas and discussion. A prize will be awarded for the best poster to be voted on by conference participants.


Posters may be submitted on any topic related to biomedicine, ethics and human rights. The poster could include an abstract of your thesis or research project, or some ideas or questions for future research.


The posters will be displayed in on the rooms at the 'Westelijk Handelsterrein' throughout the three days of the conference. We would encourage you to be available next to your poster after lunch to field questions related to your research.
Conference proceedings


The lectures of the conference will be published in a book after the conference.

Working language



For having lunch on location during the conference, we offer you lunch vouchers for the special rate of € 12,50 per day. Please fill out your choices on the registration form.

Conference location

The conference will be held in the ‘Westelijk Handelsterrein’ in Rotterdam. You can have a look at Accomodation For a pleasant stay during the conference there are three hotels on walking distance to the 'Westelijk Handelsterrein' in Rotterdam;

Of course there is no obligation to stay in these hotels, rather than your own preference.

Conference Office

Erasmus MC / ESHPM
Phone + 31 10 408 85 55
Fax + 31 10 408 90 94