Policy Forum Human Rights Research and Ethics Review: Protecting Individuals or Protecting the State?

PLoS Medicine
(Accessed 20 October 2012)
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/browse.action?field=date

Policy Forum
Human Rights Research and Ethics Review: Protecting Individuals or Protecting the State? Joseph J. Amon, Stefan D. Baral, Chris Beyrer, Nancy Kass Policy Forum, published 16 Oct 2012
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001325

Summary Points
– Recently there has been a dramatic expansion in research conducted in low- and middle-income countries, as well as research ethics committees (RECs) in these countries.

– RECs in low- and middle-income countries have little experience overseeing human rights research and may be subject to government control or influence that may favor the interests of the state over the interests of individual research participants.

– Many human rights investigators are trained in disciplines with ethical codes and professional norms, but do not typically engage RECs nor see human rights documentation as research, and they tend to view REC approval as counterproductive to the protection of research participants.

– Case studies of human rights research can provide important lessons on navigating conflicts of interest posed by some local (i.e., in country) RECs.

– Expanding the use of community engagement and developing strong ethical operating principles can help ensure that individuals and researchers are protected in human rights research and investigations.