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The Nuremberg Code




The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be

so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element

of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and

should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter

involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter

element requires that, before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental

subject, there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment;

the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably

to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person, which may possibly come from his

participation in the experiment.

The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each

individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and

responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.


The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society,

unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.


The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation

and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study, that the

anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.


The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental

suffering and injury.


No experiment should be conducted, where there is an a priori reason to believe that

death or disabling injury will occur; except, perhaps, in those experiments where the

experimental physicians also serve as subjects.


The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian

importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.


Proper preparations should be made and adequate facilities provided to protect the

experimental subject against even remote possibilities of injury, disability, or death.


The experiment should be conducted only by scientifically qualified persons. The highest

degree of skill and care should be required through all stages of the experiment of those who

conduct or engage in the experiment.


During the course of the experiment, the human subject should be at liberty to bring the

experiment to an end, if he has reached the physical or mental state, where continuation of the

experiment seemed to him to be impossible.


During the course of the experiment, the scientist in charge must be prepared to terminate

the experiment at any stage, if he has probable cause to believe, in the exercise of the good faith,

superior skill and careful judgement required of him, that a continuation of the experiment is

likely to result in injury, disability, or death to the experimental subject.

["Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law

No. 10", Vol. 2, pp. 181-182. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949.]

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