by Steven Ertelt
October 19, 2004
New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — As the world’s nations prepare to vote later this week on a proposal for a committee that would draft a treaty banning all forms of human cloning, lobbying is intensifying on both sides.
Led by the United States and Costa Rica, some 60 nations are rallying around a measure that advocates banning human cloning both for reproductive purposes as well as research. However, Belgium and other European nations are rallying a smaller group of countries in opposition.
On Monday, a key U.N. diplomat said he would do everything in his power to delay a vote for another year, saying the international community is not ready to vote on the controversial issue.
Moroccan U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Bennouna, who chairs the U.N. General Assembly’s treaty-writing legal committee, said the U.N. should postpone the vote.
"This has become such an emotional issue that I hope to avoid a vote this year," Bennouna told Reuters.
The U.N. legal committee, which has the same 191-member nation makeup as the General Assembly, is scheduled to begin debating the U.S.-Costa Rica measure on Thursday.
However, Costa Rica’s U.N. Ambassador Bruno Stagno says research cloning is a concern that he hopes will prompt member nations to ban it.
"I think once people study the science and the latest breakthroughs and developments, people will come to understand that human cloning is in the extreme, worrisome," he told Voice of America news service.
Stagno said that stem cell research would not be prohibited by his country’s proposal and he said countries favoring research cloning have yet to provide proof that it helps patients.
"We have asked them to provide us with any proof that they might have that human cloning has in any way led to positive results," Stagno said. "They have not been able to provide positive results in animal cloning regarding most of the diseases they claim could be cured through cloning, so we don’t understand why people want to move forward with human cloning."
Britain is one of the nations backing the Belgium coalition and its leading doctors group criticized President George W. Bush’s strong support for the total cloning ban.
Royal Medical Society president Lord May said countries like England should be free to decide if they want to allow human cloning to create embryos to be destroyed in research, which British officials have done.
The Belgian group of nations, with twenty-one supporters, have drafted a competing proposal that bans human cloning for reproduction but allows it for research.
In a September speech, President Bush endorsed the complete ban on human cloning.
"In this session, the U.N. will consider a resolution sponsored by Costa Rica calling for a comprehensive ban on human cloning. 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," he said.
The issue has divided the U.S. presidential candidates with Senator John Kerry co-sponsoring a Senate bill, SB303, that allows scientists to clone and kill human beings for research.