Italy Offers Human Cloning Ban Alternative at United Nations, Likely Too Late

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Italy Offers Human Cloning Ban Alternative at United Nations, Likely Too Late Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 18, 2004

New York, NY ( — Italy is hoping that a proposed alternative to two competing proposals at the United Nations to address the issue of human cloning will bridge a tenuous divide. However, the compromise is likely too little, too late and an expected vote on the two major proposals will probably take place on Friday.

The vote pits a coalition of 62 pro-life nations led by the U.S. and Costa Rica hoping to ban all forms of human cloning against another group of 22 nations headed by Belgium and other European countries that favor human cloning for research.

Many Muslin countries are undecided and are being lobbied heavily by diplomats on both sides of the debate.

Under the language of Italy’s measure, a modified version of an old Belgian proposal, the UN would call on member countries to ban efforts to create "human life" through cloning. That’s a revision of the old text that calls on nations to ban creating "human beings."

However, the language appears to be unacceptable to either side.

Belgian diplomat Marc Pecsteen told the Associated Press that his side did not favor the first draft of the compromise measure and that he is working with Italy to revise it.

Yet, time may work against the Italian idea.

"We’re making progress," Pecsteen told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We need some more playing with words to find the compromise we need, and I don’t know if we’ll have the time to get to that."

Pecsteen admitted that the proposal could be described as banning all human cloning because pro-life nations consider a human embryo to be "human life" while others do not.

"That’s what were trying to find, a constrictive ambiguity that could allow both sides to live with one text," Pecsteen said. "Unfortunately, ‘human life’ is not ambiguous enough in a way and that’s why we have a problem with it."

U.S. officials told the Associated Press that they are open to looking at the Italian proposal, but they are moving forward and pushing a vote on the total human cloning ban.