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UN sidesteps international cloning ban

22 November 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 285

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, was abandoned in favour of a more general non-binding UN declaration against reproductive cloning.

All 191 member nations of the UN were agreed on the terms of a treaty, first proposed in 2001, which would have banned reproductive cloning, but member states were divided between this, and the competing US and Costa Rica proposal. In December 2003, the UN's General Assembly agreed to postpone a vote on the two proposals for a year. But, when the vote came round last month, the UN again failed to reach an agreement on how to internationally regulate human cloning. Korea then proposed a further year's delay, to give time for an international scientific conference to be held, and a study made of national laws and regulations governing cloning. The decision about what to do was then postponed until after the US presidential elections on 2 November. With no compromise between the Belgium-led group of countries supporting the ban on reproductive cloning only and the US/Costa Rica-led group looking imminent, the UN vote was eventually scheduled for Friday 19 November.

Before the vote, because any agreement looked unlikely, Italy put forward a compromise proposition. The Italian proposition calls on nations to 'prohibit any attempt at the creation of human life through cloning and any research intended to achieve that aim'. The US then abandoned the campaign for an all-encompassing ban, a decision described as a 'major setback' for President Bush, who addressed the UN General Assembly directly in August, calling for a total ban. As the two sides were 'too divided' to gain enough support for a treaty in any form, the legal committee agreed instead to the non-binding draft declaration proposed by Italy. The benefit of the Italian formulation means that the UN has seemingly reached a position on reproductive cloning, while allowing individual countries to regulate cloning according to how they define the 'creation of human life'.

Marc Pecsteen, a Belgian diplomat, pointed out that there wasn't necessarily full agreement on the Italian text, but there was 'consensus on using it as the basis' for further talks. He added that he thought everyone was relieved that no vote would be taken, adding 'we are narrowing the differences and now have a common basis with which to work'. Bernard Siegel, executive director of the Genetics Policy Institute, which has campaigned against a ban on all forms of cloning, said it was a 'very good result'. He added that 'a declaration, no matter what it says, is not going to have a chilling effect on the countries that are trying to advance therapeutic cloning cloning research'.

U.N. Abandons Idea of Anti-Cloning Treaty
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UN deadlock defeats cloning ban
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U.S. Drops Effort for Treaty Banning Cloning
The New York Times |  20 November 2004
U.S.-Led Push for Broad U.N. Cloning Ban Crumbles
Yahoo Daily News |  19 November 2004
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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...
25 October 2004 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
Last week, the much anticipated debate on cloning began again at the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). A year after it last discussed global regulation of human cloning technology, the UN appears no closer to reaching any conclusions on this controversial issue. In fact, at the time of...
25 October 2004 - by BioNews 
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...
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...
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