Do No Harm: Mitigating Human Rights Risks when Interacting with International Medical Institutions & Professionals in Transplantation Medicine

The problem

Unethical organ transplantation is a global phenomenon that is rising as global demand for organs exceeds availability. The practice of removing organs from living or deceased persons without their voluntary, free, and informed consent may constitute individual criminal activity, as part of organ-trafficking crimes, or under state-sanctioned regimes as part of widespread or systematic persecutory conduct. Medical entities and transplant professionals are at risk of prosecution to the extent that they are complicit in these crimes. ETAC, an international human rights charity, engaged BHRC in 2022 to explore the business and human rights obligations and complicity risks for medical professionals in the field of organ transplantation.

How we tackled this

BHRC prepared a Legal Advisory Report and Policy Guidance exploring the risks of international collaborations in transplant medicine, research and training and the hard and soft law obligations that govern those partnerships. It highlighted high risk countries such as China and provides practical advice for mitigating risks and outlines circumstances where disengagement may be required. The Advisory includes information relevant to a range of stakeholders including hospitals, universities, professional societies, medical journals, independent professional bodies, medical schools and associated medical professionals in the field of organ transplantation. It will also be of interest to lawyers, ethicists, think tanks and policy makers.

At a glance

International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC)
Sector HRDD, Crimes against humanity, Forced Organ Harvesting
Services Legal Advisory & Policy Guidance
Countries China, Worldwide
Duration 6 months
Year 2022


Following the launch of the report, a number of medical journals and international organisations requested individual briefings on the findings of the report and the implications for the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry.

GRC’s Advisory was cited in the following media and academic articles:

GRC’s Advisory was cited in the following reports:

GRC’s Advisory was cited in the following events and speeches:

Engaging GRC has been a game changer. Communication from the outset was friendly and professional and great care was taken to ensure that the scope of work proposed met our needs. The resulting Legal Advisory Report and Policy Guidance documents exceeded our expectations. GRC’s legal expertise and knowledge of business and human rights shine through in legal reports that are well written and easy to understand. We highly recommend GRC as an international consultancy equipped to provide exceptional legal advisory services in the field of business and human rights.”

Susie Hughes, Executive Director, Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China