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Laboratory Medicine organizations and their professional members have a goal and responsibility to benefit the health and wellbeing of the patients and communities they serve. Newer genetics and biochemical techniques raise significant issues of community concern, impacting on privacy, informed consent, access to and retention of samples and information. Balance may be required to ensure protection of individual rights against potential benefits to the broader community. While many national organizations may already have appropriate policies addressing various ethics issues, there is a need for an international framework to assist those nations that have not yet developed such policies, as well as to enable alignment of existing national policies. We have proposed a generic ethics framework, incorporating a hierarchy of four fundamental guiding principles: autonomy, justice, non-maleficence and beneficence. Proposals or issues requiring policy development can be considered and tested against this hierarchy, resulting in the development of policy and positions consistent with the above framework, acceptable to all participating stakeholders.