Schuklenk’s critique of the CIOMS guidelines: All procedure, no substance

Ruth Macklin

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2017.049


In his article on the 2016 revision of the CIOMS International Ethical Guidelines, Udo Schuklenk criticises the guidelines but adds a few words of faint praise. His criticisms are primarily procedural, and comprise the following main points: the guidelines aren’t really ethical guidelines; the process used by the work group that wrote the guidelines involves “appeals to authority”; the work group used a method of consensus to reach conclusions on controversial points; the work group consisted of twice the number of participants from the global North as from the global South, yet the guidelines are largely directed at low-resource countries. In this commentary, I reply briefly to these criticisms and make a few concluding remarks.

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