General Assembly committee to discuss proposed ban on human cloning

General Assembly committee to discuss proposed ban on human cloning

A proposed request by France and Germany for the United Nations General Assembly to consider an international convention against human cloning for the purpose of reproduction will be discussed by a UN committee, a spokesman for the world body said today.

"The German and French Governments have proposed that for this coming General Assembly - the 56th session of the Assembly which starts next month - an item on human cloning be included, so I'm sure we'll be seeing much more debate on that in the weeks to come," said spokesman Manoel de Almeida de Silva in response to questions.

When an item is proposed, it is considered by the Assembly's General Committee, which meets at the outset of the session and makes recommendations to the plenary on which items should be included on the agenda.

Mr. de Almeida e Silva noted that in 1999, the Assembly endorsed the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, which had been adopted two years earlier by the General Conference of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). That Declaration, in its section on research, states that "practices which are contrary to human dignity, such as reproductive cloning of human beings, shall not be permitted."

The spokesman also recalled that in 1997 and 1998, the World Health Assembly - the annual meeting of member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) - also adopted resolutions on the issue, affirming that "the use of cloning for the replication of human beings is ethically unacceptable and contrary to human integrity and morality."

Asked to comment on the proposed item, WHO's Dr. Victor Boulijenkov told UN Radio that the agency's resolution on the matter "clearly stated that at least the replication of human individuals is unacceptable." He added that WHO would need to convene a meeting of experts to clarify its position on the matter.