Bush Administration Pushes UN to Reconsider Human Cloning Ban Delay
by Steven Ertelt
December 5, 2003
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration, along with other nations that support a ban on all forms of human cloning, has been lobbying behind the scenes in hopes that the United Nations will reconsider a vote it took earlier this year postponing a decision on banning human cloning for two years.
In early November, the General Assembly’s legal committee voted 80 to 79 (with 15 abstentions) to postpone for two years consideration of a proposal for an ad hoc committee to draft a ban on all forms of human cloning.
Now the full U.N. General Assembly must ratify the legal committee’s decision.
Though the assembly normally rubber stamps such committee votes, countries supporting the cloning ban proposal, led by the U.S. and Costa Rica, hope they can persuade enough nations to change their votes or obtain the votes of nations that previously abstained. If they can do that, the committee vote can be disapproved and a new vote in favor of the human cloning ban proposal could be taken.
Costa Rica’s ambassador, Bruno Stagno, said that, in light of the close committee vote, there is a chance countries favoring the ban could make headway.
"We have decided that we want to raise objections on the report that will be considered on Monday; however, we are still not decided as to exactly how we will do this," Stagno told The Scientist.
If cloning opponents can’t secure approval of their proposal, they could move to lessen the length of the delay before the next vote.
Most delays at the U.N. on considering policy proposals are for one year, while the motion to postpone the cloning ban proposal was for two years.
Stagno said some of those countries that abstained may be comfortable with modifying the decision to postpone a vote for only one year.
That would help the effort to ban human cloning as a two-year delay could easily turn into three years, because the UN would consider the Costa Rica proposal in 2005 but the ad hoc committee to draft a cloning ban wouldn’t meet until 2006.
Nigel M. de S. Cameron, director of Council for Biotechnology Policy, said, "The U.S. administration has worked hard with other governments and with a variety of NGOs to bring us to this point."
"If we believe — as I do — that the biotech agenda will dominate the 21st century, the prospect of human cloning represents our first best hope to take the ethical initiative around the world," Cameron added. "Now is our chance to press home our advantage and work for the triumph of sanity and humane values in the development of these amazing technologies."
Meanwhile, pro-cloning nations are meeting to devise their own counter-strategy. These include a Belgian-led coalition of European countries and the majority of the Islamic nations that proposed the delay.
"No one really knows what will actually happen on Monday, whether we will have a vote or some compromise solution can be reached beforehand," Stagno said
The vote to overturn the committee’s decision, if there is one, could be pushed back to later next week as the General Assembly may have to spend time in an emergency session on Palestine.