This paper provides an evaluation of the discussion on the concept of vulnerability in research involving children, which took place at the 10th Global Summit of National Bioethics Committees—the primary international forum for members of national bioethics (or ethics) bodies to share their experiences and discuss emerging bioethical issues. Children are generally considered to be a vulnerable population in international guidelines, hence special considerations are entailed. Ideally, children should play a role in the development of research projects, as well as in decision-making about their involvement. In research activities involving children, the level of risk that they are exposed to must be justified. Given the roles that national bioethics bodies hold in their respective societies, they are strategically positioned to identify and address vulnerabilities that occur in the context of research involving children, and to consider means by which research may be better aligned with ethical and regulatory norms. It is clear from the Global Summit that while vulnerability remains a critical concept, national bioethics bodies have an important role to play in contributing to its refinement in international policy, and in ensuring the adequate adaptation and implementation of international guidance.§


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Print ISSN
pp. 230-249
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2017
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