Capacity building in biomedical research ethics review has been a European priority
since the early 2000s. Prompted by the increase in data originating in internationally
sponsored trials in emerging economies, a range of capacity building initiatives were
put in place in the field of ethical review to ensure the protection of human subjects
participating in research. Drawing on fieldwork with the Forum for Ethical Review
Committees in the Asian and Western Pacific Region, I explore two distinct forms taken
by capacity building within that organization to support and train members of ethics
review committees. The first, with an emphasis on standards and measurability, takes as
its priority international accountability for clinical trial research. The second explores
how the organization goes about persuading trainees to see and do ‘ethics’ differently.
This distinction between forms of capacity allows me to explore what will count as
‘success’ in research ethics capacity building.