United Nations Renews Discussions on Human Cloning Ban This Week

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 14, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

United Nations Renews Discussions on Human Cloning Ban This Week

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 14, 2005

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — Members of the United Nations are set to renew talks on how to address the issue of human cloning. Discussions broke down last year following an impasse on a total or partial human cloning ban. Nations will now consider a proposal to draft a statement calling for a human cloning ban.

The battle over human cloning has been between two competing groups.

A coalition of more than 60 nations led by the United States and Costa Rica has pushed for a treaty that would ban human cloning worldwide. A smaller bloc of countries headed by Belgium, other European nations and some Asian countries like Japan and Singapore, want human cloning to be allowed for research purposes.

The UN has repeatedly postponed votes on any cloning ban because of the division and Italy, late last year, proposed a statement calling on a ban of all human cloning as a compromise.

While not as strong as the treaty, the anti-cloning statement has drawn support from pro-life groups and the Bush administration, who view it as a strong stand by the international agency against using human cloning for reproductive or research.

Whether by a treaty or statement, a Bush administration official told the Associated Press Friday that there is no compromise on the president’s anti-cloning position.

"We continue to advocate our long-standing position that all human cloning is wrong. We are proud of our efforts to prevent human cloning which is an affront to human dignity," the anonymous official said.

Meanwhile, Jeanne Head, a nurse and longtime United Nations lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee, said the Italian statement would "send a strong statement to the world that the UN community wants a ban on human cloning."

Closed-door discussions will take place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the Italian compromise. That proposal also calls on nations to oppose genetic engineering techniques that seek to develop "designer babies."

However, some nations may still oppose the Italian measure, which asks the 191 member countries to "prohibit any attempt at the creation of human life through cloning and any research intended to achieve that aim."

Belgium for example, objects to the phrase "human life" and wants the phrase "human being" used instead. That’s because pro-cloning nations don’t consider a days-old human embryo to be a human being.

While the Italian proposal is a nonbinding resolution, it does not preclude a later call for a convention to craft a treaty for nations to sign banning all human cloning.

The Italian measure could set up a later vote on a treaty and give cloning opponents an additional tool to show that most countries want human cloning prohibited, NRLC’s Head told LifeNews.com.