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Hofstra University School of Law




Many of our most important human rights documents are the product of the world's horror during the carnage of World War II. The broadest and most powerful declaration of human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was adopted by the membership of the new United Nations in 1948. But there are also much more specific statements of the world's aspirations for all of its inhabitants. August 1997 marked the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the trial of Nazi physicians at Nuremberg, a trial which has been variously designated as the "Doctors' Trial" and the "Medical Case."2 In addition to documenting atrocities committed by physicians and scientists during the war, the primary product of the trial has come to be known as the "Nuremberg Code," a judicial codification of ten prerequisites for the moral and legal use of human beings in experiments. Anniversaries provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the past, but also to renew our efforts to plan for the future. Have we learned the lessons of the Doctors' Trial? What can we do to make those lessons real for physicians and medical researchers 50 years later?

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