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Copyright (c) 2001 The Green Bag, Inc.
The Green Bag An Entertaining Journal of Law

DIALOGUE: Think Globally

Spring, 2001

4 Green Bag 2d 287


Michael Kirby


Through the United Nations you've been involved in efforts to understand and reach agreement on some legal issues relating to the human genome - but how did you get started down this path?
I was appointed chairman of the Australian law reform commission in 1975. That commission quite early in its life was given a task to prepare laws on the subject of human tissue transplantation. That took me into the area of bioethics. I've remained attached to that area ever since - because the issues have become larger, they've become more complicated and more sensitive and more global. So, one thing led to another and I became involved in the OECD work on data protection and data security, and later I became involved in the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee, which was in turn responsible for the preparation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Human Genome. I also became involved in the ethics committee of HUGO - the Human Genome Organisation.

Indeed I leave tomorrow for a number of conferences, three of which will be related to the genome. So, that's a long way of saying that, in life, you tend to get on a track and it leads onto all sorts of opportunities. I find it a great joy to get out of the circle of lawyers and to meet scientists and technologists. To a very large extent the future will belong to lawyers - but the dynamic of the future belongs ...
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