Pro-Life Nations Lobby UN to Reduce Human Cloning Ban Delay

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 9, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Nations Lobby UN to Reduce Delay on Considering Human Cloning Ban

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 9, 2003

New York, NY ( — Pro-life advocates scored a partial victory at the United Nations on Tuesday when they were able to convince the General Assembly to shorten a delay from two years to one on considering a proposal for an ad hoc committee to draft a ban on all forms of human cloning.

The change was approved by a consensus without a vote.

Diplomats from Costa Rica had lobbied heavily to overturn a committee vote in favor of the two year delay. They had hoped to persuade the U.N. to adopt their anti-cloning treaty, but they could not secure enough votes.

However, they were able to persuade delegates to shorten the delay. This means the proposal will be taken up by the U.N. next September when it begins its next session.

The U.S. and Costa Rica are the main sponsors of the ban and it has the support of dozens of other nations including many Latin American, African and Islamic nations as well as some Catholic European countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

In early November, the General Assembly’s legal committee voted 80 to 79 (with 15 abstentions) to postpone for two years consideration of the proposal.

Though cloning ban proponents have significant support, Iran led a defecting group of Islamic nations that joined cloning advocates to delay its consideration.

Britain’s deputy U.N. ambassador Adam Thomson said his government was "profoundly disappointed" by Costa Rica’s effort to overturn the committee’s decision.

"I wish to make clear that the United Kingdom would never be party to any convention which aimed to introduce a global ban on therapeutic cloning," Thomson told the assembly. "Neither will the United Kingdom participate in the drafting of such a convention nor apply it in its national law."

The pro-life proposal would require all nations "prohibit any research, experiment, development or application in their territories or areas under their jurisdiction or control of any technique aimed at human cloning" pending the adoption of an international convention.

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. He urged "the triumph of sanity and humane values in the development of these amazing technologies."