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UN to vote on cloning this week

18 October 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 280

The 59th General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) is to revisit the thorny issue of an international treaty regulating human cloning on Thursday and Friday this week. The outcome of the upcoming vote has been described by observers as 'too close to call'.

Discussions on the treaty were postponed last year due to a lack of agreement between member nations. One proposal, sponsored by Belgium and a number of other nations, including China, Japan, France, Germany and the UK, is for a UN resolution that would ban human reproductive cloning only, while allowing individual states to regulate cloning for research purposes as they see fit. A competing proposal, sponsored by Costa Rica and supported by about 50 countries including the US, calls for a UN treaty to ban all forms of human cloning. In September, President Bush told the UN that 'I support that resolution and urge all governments to affirm a basic ethical principle: no human life should ever be produced or destroyed for the benefit of another'.

Last December, the stalemate between the two proposals prompted a third proposal from a group of Islamic nations, led by Iran. This stated that voting on the competing proposals should be delayed for two years so that scientific and ethical issues could be studied further. UN delegates narrowly voted in favour of this proposal, but the Bush administration and others were able to persuade the UN that the delay should only be for one year. In August, The UK's Royal Society and 67 other science academies around the world urged the UN to ban human reproductive cloning only, whilst leaving individual countries to regulate therapeutic cloning.

Last Wednesday, at the UN headquarters in New York, groups representing patients held a joint conference to urge the UN not to ban cloning for medical and stem cell research. The conference also included a taped message from Christopher Reeve, the late actor and stem cell research campaigner. Bernard Siegel, director of the Genetics Policy Institute, said Reeve's message is 'don't ban therapeutic cloning Ð it would destroy the hope of millions'. In addition, a coalition of 125 US scientific, patient and academic groups have written an open letter to the UN General Assembly and Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Daniel Perry, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, said the letter 'sends a clear message to all UN delegates and policy leaders around the world that any ban will be strongly opposed'.

The UK's Royal Society (RS) is again urging the UN to ignore the call to ban all forms of cloning. It urged countries to support the Belgian proposal when voting takes place later this week. Lord May of Oxford, president of the RS, said 'The US should be allowed to decide whether therapeutic cloning should be outlawed within its borders'. He added that if the Belgian proposal is successful 'the US and others would still be free to ban all human cloning but countries that see the promise offered by therapeutic cloning can still carry out research'.

Human cloning ban divides Britain and US
The Independent |  18 October 2004
Scientists, patients fight UN stem cell ban
Reuters |  13 October 2004
UN considers cloning - again
The Scientist |  13 October 2004
UN 'must ignore cloning ban call'
BBC News Online |  17 October 2004
19 November 2007 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
The United Nation's Institute of Advanced Studies has issued a report containing a stark warning to the rest of the world: introduce global legislation to prohibit reproductive cloning or prepare to consider laws that protect cloned individuals from potential discrimination, prejudice and abuse. The report, entitled 'Is...
10 March 2005 - by BioNews 
The United Nations (UN) has adopted a non-binding declaration that prohibits 'all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life'. The ban was passed by the general assembly on Tuesday, by 84 votes to 34 with 37 abstentions. Many countries...
21 February 2005 - by BioNews 
The United Nations (UN) has approved a declaration calling for a ban on human cloning for both reproductive and research purposes. The assembly's legal committee voted 71 to 35 in favour of the non-binding statement, backed by the Bush administration, with 43 abstentions. The declaration will now pass to the...
21 February 2005 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
In this week's BioNews, we report on the latest instalment in the ongoing saga of the United Nation (UN)'s deliberations on cloning. What started out, in 2001, as a proposed treaty to ban human reproductive cloning has ended up as a non-binding declaration calling on nations to ban all...
22 November 2004 - by BioNews 
The Legal Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) last week abandoned proposals to adopt an international convention on human cloning. A proposal led by the US and Costa Rica, which would have meant an international treaty banning all forms of human cloning, including for medical research...
24 September 2004 - by BioNews 
President Bush has told the United Nations (UN) that he supports a UN draft resolution that would ban all forms of human cloning. The President's speech, to the UN General Assembly, took his belief in 'human dignity' as its theme. He spoke first about the situation in Iraq, before moving...
31 August 2004 - by BioNews 
The UK's Royal Society and 67 other science academies around the world are urging the United Nations (UN) to ban human reproductive cloning, whilst leaving individual countries to regulate therapeutic cloning. However, the US is pushing for a global ban on all uses of the technology, which could be introduced...
10 December 2003 - by BioNews 
The United Nations will reconsider a treaty to ban human cloning in one year's time, rather than the two-year delay agreed upon by its legal committee recently. The General Assembly arrived at the consensus this week, following a last minute plan by supporters of a total ban on cloning technology...
5 November 2003 - by BioNews 
The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) has narrowly voted to postpone any decision on a global human cloning ban until 2005. Eighty countries voted in favour of the delay, with 79 voting against and 15 abstaining. This meant that delegates did not vote on two other competing cloning...
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