13 August 2001
ByAppeared in BioNews 120
The United Nations (UN) has come under pressure to ban reproductive cloning, after the French and German governments wrote to secretary general, Kofi Annan. The two countries have also circulated a draft resolution proposing a committee to draft the ban. The UN general assembly is due to meet in September and assembly president, South Korean foreign minister Han Seung Soo, must decide whether to include cloning in the list of discussion topics.
In 1998, the assembly passed a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) declaration on human rights and the human genome, which included an opposition to cloning for reproductive purposes. But the declaration has no legal force, a limitation that France and Germany would like to overcome in its proposed treaty. Treaties, however, must be signed and ratified by a large number of countries - a difficult task even on the most uncontroversial subjects. President Bush has been reluctant to sign up to international treaties in the past, but insiders suggest that his own opposition to cloning and the recent House of Representatives vote on the issue, might change his mind.