WMA Declaration on the Relation of Law and Ethics

Adopted by the 164th WMA Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2003
and adopted as a Declaration by the 70th WMA General Assembly, Tbilisi, Georgia, October 2019


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.

Ethical Obligations, Law, Legal Duties, Legal Obligations, Unethical Conducts