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UN delays cloning vote again

25 October 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 281

The United Nations (UN) has again failed to reach an agreement on an international treaty regulating human cloning. All 191 UN members agree on a treaty first proposed in 2001, which would ban reproductive cloning of human beings. However, they are divided over an alternative proposal, which seeks a wider ban on all uses of cloning technology. In December 2003, the General Assembly agreed to postpone a vote on the two proposals for a year. Now, it looks as though the vote will be delayed again.

According to Bernard Siegel, director of the Genetics Policy Institute, an international lobby group that supports cloning for research purposes, the delay marked 'a tremendous victory'. Twelve southern African nations that previously supported a total ban are now in favour of allowing research - cloning to continue. 'We shall not be party to any decision that will have us act hastily without measuring the benefits that medical science can provide to improve the quality of life of our people', Ambassador Alfred Dube of Botswana told the UN legal committee last week. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan also said that he personally supported therapeutic cloning, but that the issue was up to individual member states to decide on.

The proposal opposed by the US, sponsored by Belgium and 23 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. The competing proposal, sponsored by Costa Rica and supported by the US and 59 other countries, calls for a UN treaty to ban all forms of human cloning.

Last year, 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.

UK Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said last week that therapeutic cloning would continue to be allowed in Britain, regardless of the outcome of a UN vote on the issue. He said that if countries wanted to ban the research then 'we respect that', but that it would be 'totally wrong' for the UN to override the position reached in the UK via its democratic process. US special advisor Susan Moore told the legal committee that the United States supported efforts to find breakthrough treatment and cures for diseases, but that it felt scientific progress was possible without posing 'a threat to human dignity'.

Korea has now proposed another year's delay, and said that an international scientific conference should be held, and a study made of the national laws and regulations governing cloning. According to a Reuters news report, many diplomats now expect that any decision on the issue will be postponed until after the presidential election on November 2.

Debate rages on world cloning ban
BBC News Online |  23 October 2004
UN Cloning Treaty on Hold Until After U.S. Election
Reuters |  22 October 2004
UN delay: a boost for cloning advocates
Christian Science Monitor |  25 October 2004
UN Fails to Reach Agreement on Cloning
VOA News |  22 October 2004
U.S. Stem Cell Policy Delays U.N. Action on Human Cloning
The New York Times |  24 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...
18 October 2004 - by BioNews 
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...
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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