Regulating Genome Editing: What Role for International Human Rights Law?
This article offers a critical assessment of the role of international human rights law in the regulation of genome editing. The international regulation of interventions in the human genome is currently approached through the framework of human rights law. Given the rapid scientific developments in the field of genetics, it is important to explore the implications of this framework for the research and clinical application of genome editing. The broader normative question is whether the existing human rights standards are sufficient in addressing the challenges posed by the new technology. It will be argued that while international human rights law does not prohibit genome editing, it imposes important restrictions on it. However, existing human rights standards are arguably insufficient to regulate germline genome editing due to the significant loopholes in their protection with respect to embryos, as well as to the wide-ranging implications of the new technology for society and humankind. It will be suggested that new standards are needed, ideally set out in a new international instrument and supported by an institutional framework. These will help address the specific challenges posed by the new technology and ensure its equitable use in the interest of humanity.