The European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine of 1997 (“Oviedo Convention“) is the best current example of how to promote the protection of human rights in the biomedical field at a transnational level. The importance of this instrument lies in the fact that it is the first comprehensive multilateral treaty addressing biomedical human rights issues. Certainly, some of the principles it contains were already included in more general terms in previous international human rights treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 and the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950 (e.g. the rights to life, to physical integrity and to privacy, the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment and of any form of discrimination). However, this is the first time that these rights have been developed and assembled in one single multilateral binding instrument entirely devoted to biomedical issues.
The purpose of this paper is, first, to give an overview of the history of the Convention; second, to present its general characteristics; and finally to summarize its key provisions.
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