Ethics / Personal Data Protection
The ethical issues are becoming increasingly important in the management of research projects both internationally and nationally, and this holds true for all scientific disciplines (both in natural sciences and in social sciences and humanities).
At the University of Geneva, any ethical approach described below is carried out in accordance with the Charter of Ethics and Deontology, established by the Comitee of Ethics and Deontology which, within the University, is the reference body in this field.
Research with human subjects
Research with human subjects is essential for science to progress especially in the field of medicine. To do this, ethical and legal framework conditions are necessary. In Switzerland, it is the Federal Act on Research involving Human Beings (HRA) which applies in the cases specified in its Art. 2 al. 1.
Any research project involving human participants normally requires the approval of a Research Ethics Board.
At the University of Geneva, the University Research Ethics Commission (CUREG) evaluates research projects with human participants at the University not falling within the scope of application of the art. 2 al. 1 HRA.
You can contact CUREG - or by filling in the form https://www.unige.ch/commissionethique/contact/
On the other hand, researchers whose projects fall within the scope of this article must contact the Cantonal Commission for Research Ethics (CCER) directly.
Research with animals
In Switzerland, any research using animals must be done within the legal framework imposed by the Federal Law on Animal Protection and under the control of the cantonal and federal authorities.
For research projects with animals conducted at the University, it is necessary to refer to the Internal Procedure. Applications for authorization are submitted by e-mail to the Director of Animal Experimentation at the e-mail address
Processing of personal data / DPO
- This concerns only processiong of personal data. Not to be confounded with https://www.unige.ch/recherche/en/policies/research-data-management/ !
For projects involving the collection and processing of personal data at / by the University, it is the Cantonal Data Protection Law that applies. Consequently, its application to UNIGE: https://memento.unige.ch/doc/0160/?searchterm=lipad can be evoked as our (UNIGE) internal data protection policy.
In case some personal data would be transferred from Europe to Switzerland for processing this should be considered as an intra-European transfer following the Adequacy Decision for Switzerland: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/data-protection/data-transfers-outside-eu/adequacy-protection-personal-data-non-eu-countries_en. Following the GDPR, art. 45, al.9. this decision is still valid.
If the EU data protection regulation (GDPR) would exceptionally apply to your project, please refer to the EU guidelines on this matter before any data processing: http://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/grants_manual/hi/ethics/h2020_hi_ethics-data-protection_en.pdf
The process of appointing and setting up a DPO as well as a committee on the application of LIPAD at the university is currently under way.
Dual-Use - Risk of Military applications/funding
According to the UNIGE Charter of Ethics and Deontology, responsibility towards society is a consequence of the University’s public mandate and academic freedom. Therefore, all researchers have a personal duty to take into account the possible consequences on society of their research, and to question potentially dangerous applications, throughout the full duration of the project.
These principles are implemented through the UNIGE institutional framework and the following operational approach:
- The Principal Investigator is required to review UNIGE ethics standards (see point on “Ethics” above), including the following questions:
- Do the results of your research have any confirmed or potential military applications or affect current standards in military ethics –e.g., global ban on weapons of mass destruction, issues of proportionality, discrimination of combatants and accountability in drone and autonomous robotics developments, incendiary or laser weapons ?
- Do any export control regulations apply to the results of your research ?
- Is the military-industrial complex (including but not limited to government, armed forces and/or defence industry) involved in funding your research?
- If one of these questions is answered by YES/POSSIBLY, the Principal Investigator is required to notify Research Services in writing without delay for further advice;
- If a preliminary review does not confirm that UNIGE ethics standards are respected, the competent ethics body will conduct a full evaluation.
Guidance note for research involving dual-use (H2020)
EU import/export rules
Council Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 of 5 May 2009 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports, transfer, brokering and transit of dual-use items (Recast)
For any other questions relating to ethics, contact University Research Ethics Commission (CUREG) and / or the Faculty Ethics Commission if there is one.
Specific information for "Horizon 2020"
For European Framework Program projects (Horizon 2020, IMI, etc.), please refer to the Research Services’ Feuille d’information du Service Recherche and its annexes.