Networked Governance: Bridging the 'Genomics Divide'?
In: International Studies Association's 49th Annual Convention, Bridging Multiple Divides, March 26, 2008, San Francisco, USA.
The completion of the Human Genome Project has opened up unprecedented possibilities in healthcare, but also ethical and social dilemmas. Some fear that the health concerns of developed countries will take precedence over those of developing countries, thereby creating a 'genomics divide'. Partly to address such issues, UNESCO has adopted three international declarations on human genomics and bioethics, whilst the Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (TJCB) has proposed the formation of a Global Genomics Initiative (GGI). Both UNESCO and TJCB require the support of governments to implement their programs. In her book 'A New World Order', Anne-Marie Slaughter proposes a global governance framework centered on government networks and the disaggregated state. This paper explores whether her framework might be applied to the UNESCO declarations and the GGI. Drawing on empirical data from fieldwork conducted in Kenya and South Africa in 2005 and 2006, the paper concludes that government networks could strengthen these genomics governance mechanisms, but that integration rather than disaggregation at national level would be essential to the success of any such endeavour.
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