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  1. #1
    The Scientist

    Decemberテつ*10, 2003

    UN to vote on cloning in a year

    Last-minute change to cut delay in talks from 2 years to 1 year angers UK | By Theresa Tamkins

    UNITED NATIONS, NY-The United Nations will reopen talks on a human cloning ban next year rather than in 2 years, a decision marked by the back-and-forth wrangling that has become de rigeur among countries unable to reach a consensus on the issue.

    Indeed, the last-minute maneuvering by a US-led coalition of nations to reverse an earlier vote by the UN's Sixth Committee, which opted for the 2-year wait, appeared to infuriate the United Kingdom.

    "The United Kingdom is profoundly disappointed by the actions of those who sought until very recently to overturn the decision of the Sixth Committee. During the deliberations of the Sixth Committee, we made clear the views of the United Kingdom. The UK is totally opposed to reproductive cloning, and we were one of the first countries in the world to introduce specific legislation to ban this possibility. However, in our view, therapeutic cloning is a different matter," Adam Thomson, ambassador and deputy permanent representative of the UK Mission of the United Nations, told the General Assembly.

    Although all the countries are unanimous in their desire to ban cloning for the purposes of reproduction, a US-led group of more than 60 nations is holding out for a total ban on human cloning, including therapeutic cloning. That proposal, introduced by Costa Rica, is backed by mostly developing nations, strongly Catholic countries and an array of groups and religious organizations, including the International Right to Life Federation, Inc.

    A second proposal, introduced by Belgium and backed by more than 20 nations including France, Germany, and Japan, would ban reproductive cloning and leave regulations regarding therapeutic cloning up to the individual nations.

    In a vote on November 6, the lack of consensus led the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to introduce the motion for a 2-year delay. Backers of the Costa Rican resolution believed there were certain procedural "irregularities" associated with the motion. They weighed several options in recent weeks, including calling for another vote on the issue. In a flurry of last minute discussions among backers of the Belgian resolution and members of the OIC, a consensus was reached on Tuesday to delay the issue for 1 year instead of 2.

    "We believe that the United Nations should proceed through consensus. It is clear there is no consensus in respect to therapeutic cloning research, but by ignoring this fact and pressing for action to ban all cloning, supporters of the Costa Rican resolution have effectively destroyed the possibility of action on the important area on which we are all agreed-a ban on reproductive cloning. I wish to make clear that the United Kingdom would never be party to any convention which aims to introduce a global ban on therapeutic cloning, neither will the UK participate in the drafting of such a convention nor apply it in its national law. Therapeutic cloning research will continue to be permitted in the UK," Thomson told the General Assembly after the decision.

    The decision to reopen the issue next year, as opposed to 2005, was welcomed by Douglas A. Sylva, director of research at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. "We're encouraged by the decision today to change the deferral from 2 years to 1 year. I think it shows increasing momentum for a comprehensive ban on cloning," he told The Scientist. "The United Kingdom's somewhat bitter statement about the decision today shows that the United Kingdom is itself growing increasingly isolated in its pursuit of research cloning. They went way out in front of the world community when they made the decision to encourage and finance such research domestically, and now they are sensing that the world community does not agree with that decision."

    Cost Rican's ambassador, Bruno Stagno, also said the decision was encouraging. "We know we've always had the votes for our draft, so we are already gearing up for next year," he said.

    The decision reflects the lack of global consensus on the issue of cloning, according to one UN official. "We do not just turn on the taps and a treaty pops out. It has to reflect reality; otherwise, the treaty is worth nothing," he said. "If there is no agreement right now in the international community to negotiate a treaty to ban all forms of cloning, then there is no way the UN is going to adopt a treaty. Even if there is a vote by one or two votes to force this through an ad hoc committee, the treaty will only be signed by the technology have-nots, or the technological do-not-wish-to-haves, and not the technology haves or the technology wish-to-haves-they just won't sign it."
    Links for this article
    C. Soares, "UN cloning talks bog down," The Scientist, October 1, 2002.テつ*
    T. Tamkins, "UN may vote on cloning Monday," The Scientist, December 5, 2003.テつ*
    T. Tamkins, "UN delays cloning vote," The Scientist, November 7, 2003.テつ*
    Catholic Family and Human Rights Instituteテつ*

  2. #2
    Hopefully, reasonable minds and logical thinking will prevail.

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