Original Research

Solidarity as a global bioethical principle: Own reasons for a culture of solidarity from a Protestant perspective

Riaan Rheeder
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 39, No 1 | a1816 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v39i1.1816 | © 2018 Riaan Rheeder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 October 2017 | Published: 27 March 2018

About the author(s)

Riaan Rheeder, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa


In the development and acceptance of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights (UDBHR), the Protestant faith tradition was not involved in the consultation process (other traditions were indeed consulted). This brings the universality (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] perspective) as well as the acceptability of the declaration and its principles (civic perspective) into question. To address this issue, it is necessary to involve the Protestant tradition in the discourse by presenting own reasons to support the universal principles in the declaration (theological perspective). In order to achieve the aim, two facets of Article 13 will be studied. In the first place, to present satisfactory own reasons, it is important to investigate and construe beforehand what UNESCO’s understanding is of the content of Article 13 of the declaration. In the second place, with sufficient understanding of Article 13, a theological evaluation and grounding will be undertaken. From a broad Protestant perspective, this discourse has shown that solidarity as a shared value can be grounded in a Trinitarian approach. It is clear that Article 13 of the UDBHR can be grounded in a broad Protestant social teaching; therefore, the call for solidarity can be encouraged, wholeheartedly supported and executed.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study gives attention to global bioethics and human rights, an underdeveloped subject within the field of theological ethics. The study overlaps with political science, philosophy (global ethics) and human rights. It joins the discussion in this discipline and supports the promotion of solidarity within this field, which is very important within the health sector in South Africa.


UNESCO; Global bioethics; Solidarity; Trinity


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