UN legal committee chairman looks to solve battling views on cloning

22 October 2003

The Chairman of the United Nations General Assembly's Legal Committee called a meeting today to iron out differences between adherents of two competing resolutions banning human reproductive cloning.

While both versions call for a ban on all human reproductive cloning, they differ on language referring to the treatment of human cells for other than reproduction.

The Chairman, Ambassador Lauro Liboon Baja of the Philippines, invited representatives of five Member States on each side of the discussion to find common ground between a resolution submitted by Belgium with 13 co-sponsors and one submitted by Costa Rica and 44 other countries. In both cases the drafts are not meant to come to resolutions, but only frame the instructions to an ad hoc committee, which, in turn, will be charged with drawing up a resolution.

The Belgian draft, while banning all human reproductive cloning, calls upon States "to take action to control other forms of human cloning by adopting a ban or imposing a moratorium or regulating them by means of national legislation." The Costa Rican draft would ban all forms of human cloning.

In Committee debate yesterday Ambassador Bruno Rodriguez of Cuba said he would vote against any text that allowed human cloning for reproductive purposes, "however regulation should not imply a restriction on science." He said cloning could resolve problems such as brain degenerative diseases.

The representative of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth Woodeson, said that although her country was against any cloning that would create a human child, "therapeutic cloning is a different matter."

Tanzania's representative, Andy Mwandembwa, said "trying to distinguish between reproductive cloning and research or therapeutic cloning was only an attempt to hide the fact that a human being was being created for the purpose of destroying it, in order to produce embryonic stem cells or to carry out other scientific experiments."

Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore said he believed "humans could experiment with animals, but not with humans."

Christian Much, representative of Germany, speaking also for France, urged the exploration of a solution that could be adopted by consensus, and Archbishop Celestino Migliore, an observer of the Vatican, said that if reproductive cloning of human beings contravened the law of nature, "a principle with which all delegations appeared to agree," so did the cloning of the same human embryo that was slated for research purposes.

The Committee is scheduled to vote next week.


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