Hospitals have them, universities have them, research laboratories have them.  It seems that ethics committees are everywhere.

But what are they exactly, what purpose do they serve?

Answering these questions is an important aspect in deciding their makeup.

A close examination of many ethics committee’s statements of purpose reveals that the primary job of the ethics committee is not looking into the ethics of the matters before them; it seems that they are formed to ensure that the organization  is guilt free, that legally they are covered, that the risks to the organization are minimized.

This is not the point of Ethics Committees.  Yes, ethics committees ought to ensure that all those affected are considered. Yes, harm should be measured and controlled.  Yes, they ought to not care what the law says.  Yes, they ought to take a broad measure of all the effects, not just the consequences. Yes, they ought to look a the duties of the players.

I can assist in the proper construction of an Ethics Committee, one whose criteria cannot be met simply by cutting and pasting.