WMA Council Resolution on the Relation of Law and Ethics


Adopted by the 164th WMA Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2003

Ethical Values and legal principles are usually closely related, but ethical obligations typically exceed legal duties. In some cases, the law mandates unethical conduct. The fact that a physician has complied with the law does not necessarily mean that the physician acted ethically.

When law is in conflict with medical ethics, physicians should work to change the law. In circumstances of such conflict, ethical responsibilities supersede legal obligations.