We have reached a singular global moment. We can now edit genes with unprecedented ease and precision—any genes, in almost any living thing, from plants, to insects to people. But public mistrust is building. Hard decisions need to be made. How do we apply this technology? What sort of future do we want? And who gets to decide?
The Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance, together with an international network of research partners, are convening the first Global Citizens’ Assembly on Genome Editing to get to the heart of these issues. The assembly will propose global principles that will shape how this controversial technology will be used today and in the years to come.
How do we apply this technology? What sort of future do we want? And, who gets to decide?
With the recent shocking announcement of the world’s first-ever gene-edited humans – China’s secretly engineered ‘CRISPR babies’ – public mistrust is building. Hard decisions need to be made. How do we apply this technology? What sort of future do we want? And, who gets to decide?
Scientists called for dialogue at a global level. The demand to place the public at the centre of the discussion is growing.
But what kind of global dialogue can take place? We live in an era of disinformation and political polarisation, of conspiracy theories and declining trust in scientific institutions. Is a meaningful discussion on complex technologies and moral disagreements possible?
The Global Citizens’ Assembly
The Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance (the Centre) at the University of Canberra is convening the world’s first Global Citizens’ Assembly on genome editing. It presents a concrete response to the urgent ethical and regulatory questions in relation to genome-editing technologies.
The Global Citizens’ Assembly will bring together at least twenty-four participants representing different countries across all continents most affected by genome editing. Participants will take part in five days of deliberations about the global principles of governance of genome editing. They will have access to eminent scientists at the forefront of genomic research, ethicists, and other stakeholders. They will have the ear of decision-makers at national and global levels.
A Global Citizens’ Assembly provides
a concrete response to
the urgent ethical and regulatory
questions in relation to
The recommendations of the global citizens assembly will be turned over to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Director-Generals of the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization, to relevant ministers and government departments throughout the world as well as to major relevant stakeholders from the Industry, Civil Society and Science and research.
With over two decades of experience in designing, implementing, and assessing citizen forums, the Centre and its partners have strong evidence proving that democratic deliberations like citizens juries, when run correctly, have the power to generate legitimate recommendations based on citizen input. The thinking behind it is as simple as it is sounds: When ordinary citizens are given the chance to gain credible information, the opportunity to exchange their ideas with a diverse group of people, and the time reflect on their views, citizens are willing and able to come up with recommendations to shared problems.
Learn more about deliberative democracy here.
The Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra is the lead organizer of the Global Citizens’ Assembly.