Original Research

Environmental protection as a global bioethical principle: Protestant faith tradition in conversation with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Adriaan L. Rheeder
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2186 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2186 | © 2021 Riaan Rheeder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 November 2020 | Published: 11 May 2021

About the author(s)

Adriaan L. Rheeder, The Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Tlokwe, South Africa


The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (UDBHR) is an important, modern human rights instrument regulating global bioethical challenges. The Protestant faith tradition was excluded from any discourse regarding the UDBHR; consequently, the universality and credibility, especially in Protestant circles, have been questioned. For the Protestant faith tradition, the voice of the Bible is decisive. An ethical foundation for article 17 of the UDBHR (enviromental protection and health) is, therefore, important, as it can contribute to the internalisation of the principle. In the analysis of article 17, it has been shown that the international community is convinced that an irrefutable relationship exists between nature and the health of the human interconnectedness. A damaged creation harms the health of the human and, therefore, the protection of nature is an indisputable obligation. From a Protestant ethical perspective, this global principle could be associated with or founded on the themes of creation, sin, covenant, Christology and eschatology. Grounded in this preliminary evaluation, article 17 can be supported by the global Protestant community. A few facts from South Africa indicate the necessity of promoting the global bioethical principle in this country.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This study is an interdisciplinary analysis in the sense that it focuses on Theology and Human Rights Law within the context of Global Bioethics. It challenges the view that the Protestant perspective can be excluded in the discourse regarding the relation between environment and human health (article 17 of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] Bioethics Declaration).


environment; biosphere; biodiversity; global bioethics; UNESCO; protestant faith tradision; creation; sin; covenant; christology; eschatology.


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