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The value and respect that every person has and deserves regardless of her/his age, sex, health, social condition, ethnic origin and religion, etc.

ICRP Publication 138, 2018

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One of the four Core Ethical Values underpinning the System of Radiological Protection described in ICRP Publication 138:

Excerpt from ICRP Publication 138 Ethical Foundations of the System of Radiological Protection

3.4. Dignity

(59) Dignity is an attribute of the human condition: the idea that something is due to a person because she/he is human. This means that every individual deserves unconditional respect, irrespective of personal attributes or circumstances such as age, sex, health, disability, social condition, ethnic origin, religion, etc. This idea has a prominent place in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ (United Nations, 1948). Dignity has a long history as the central value in many ethical theories, including Kant’s notion to treat individuals as subjects, not objects: ‘Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end’ (Kant, 1785). Personal autonomy is a corollary of human dignity. This is the idea that individuals have the capacity to act freely (i.e. to make uncoerced and informed decisions).

(60) Respect for human dignity was first promoted in radiological protection as ‘informed consent’ in biomedical research, which means that a person has ‘the right to accept the risk voluntarily’ and ‘an equal right to refuse to accept’ (ICRP Publication 62). Together with the concept of ‘right to know’, ‘informed consent’ was clearly established in ICRP Publication 84 on pregnancy and medical radiation. Beyond the medical field, human dignity was introduced explicitly as ‘the need for the respect of individual human rights and for the consequent range of human views’ in the elaboration of the ICRP framework for the protection of the environment (ICRP Publication 91). The Commission has also emphasised the promotion of autonomy through stakeholder participation (ICRP Publication 103) and empowerment of individuals to make informed decisions, whether, for example, confronted with contaminated land (ICRP Publication 111), security screening in airports (ICRP Publication 125), radon in their homes (ICRP Publication 126), or cosmic radiation in aviation (ICRP Publication 132). The system of radiological protection thus actively respects dignity and promotion of the autonomy of people facing radioactivity in their daily lives. It is worth noting that the promotion of dignity is also related to a set of procedural ethical values (accountability, transparency, and stakeholder participation), developed in Section 4, which are linked to the practical implementation of the system of radiological protection.