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Nuremberg Code and Other Codes of Research Ethics

Ethical principles are fundamental in any research involving human subjects, ensuring that their rights, safety, and welfare are protected. The Nuremberg Code is the first international code that established ethical guidelines for medical research involving human subjects. Since then, many other codes have been developed, such as the Declaration of Helsinki, Belmont Report, International Conference on Harmonization (ICH) Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice, and Common Rule, each highlighting the importance of ethical research conduct.

Codes of research ethics

1. The Nuremberg Code

The Nuremberg Code was established in 1947 after the war crimes committed by Nazi doctors and scientists during World War II. The code was developed to ensure that future medical research involving human subjects adheres to ethical principles. The Nuremberg Code highlighted the importance of informed consent and the protection of participants’ rights and welfare. It also required that experiments be conducted by qualified scientists and that risks be outweighed by potential benefits.

The Nuremberg Code emphasizes that voluntary consent is essential and that participants should be informed about the study’s purpose, duration, risks, and benefits. The code also states that participants have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without any negative consequences. In addition, the code mandates that experiments should be designed to avoid unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.

2. The Declaration of Helsinki

The Declaration of Helsinki was developed in 1964 by the World Medical Association as a set of ethical guidelines for medical research involving human subjects. The declaration outlines ethical principles and guidelines, including the requirement for independent ethical review, informed consent, and protection of participant confidentiality.

The Declaration of Helsinki emphasizes that the interests of the participant should take precedence over the interests of science and society. It also requires that research involving human subjects should be conducted by qualified individuals and that researchers must be transparent about the research’s goals and methods.

3. The Belmont Report

The Belmont Report was created in 1979 by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research in the United States. The report outlines ethical principles and guidelines for research involving human subjects, including respect for persons, beneficence, and justice.

The Belmont Report emphasizes that the respect for individuals includes respecting their autonomy, protecting those who have limited autonomy, and ensuring that participants are treated fairly. Beneficence requires that researchers do not harm participants, maximize the benefits of the research, and minimize the risks. Justice requires that the benefits and risks of the research should be distributed equitably among all participants.

4. ICH Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice

The ICH Guidelines for Good Clinical Practice were developed in 1996 by the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use. These guidelines aim to establish a standard for the design, conduct, monitoring, recording, and reporting of clinical trials involving human subjects.

The ICH Guidelines require that clinical trials be conducted in accordance with ethical principles and guidelines, including obtaining informed consent from participants and ensuring their safety and welfare. The guidelines also require that clinical trials be designed to answer scientific questions and that the risks and benefits of the research are balanced.

5. Common Rule

The Common Rule is a federal policy in the United States that regulates research involving human subjects. It was established in 1991 and updated in 2018 to ensure that research is conducted ethically and participants’ rights are protected.

The Common Rule requires that researchers obtain informed consent from participants, and the research design should minimize risks and maximize benefits. The policy also requires that participants’ privacy and confidentiality be protected, and that independent ethical review of research proposals be conducted.


Ethical principles are fundamental in research involving human subjects, ensuring that their rights, safety, and welfare are protected. The Nuremberg Code,

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