World Congress

for freedom of scientific research

The United Nations and Therapeutic Cloning

01/27/2006

On 12 December 2001, with resolution 56/93, the United Nations General Assembly decided to create an ad hoc office to promote the elaboration of a text for an international convention against human cloning, and recommended that the office continue their work the following year as a work group within the Legal Affairs Committee of the UN Assembly.

The working group, which convened during the 2002 General Assembly, decided to continue their consultations into 2003, placing the matter on the agenda under the title “International Convention Against Human Reproductive Cloning�?. In September 2003 Costa Rica prepared a draft for the Convention, extending the prohibition to all types of “human�? cloning – and therefore even therapeutic cloning – obtaining support from, among others, Italy, Spain and the United States of America. At the same time, to avoid the affirmation of a prohibitionist set-up of a convention proposal, a group of member states guided by Belgium prepared a draft agreement to ensure that the final convention included reproductive cloning exclusively and not therapeutic cloning. Participants in this group also included Brazil, China, Japan, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The discussion to the Legal Affairs Committee of the General Assembly at the Sixth Committee in October 2003 radicalised the fronts, making a compromise impossible. On 6 November 2003, Iran, in the name of the states of the Islamic Conference Organisation, introduced a motion for not putting the Costa Rica proposal to vote until 2005; the reference text was approved by only one vote: 80 votes in favour, 79 against and 15 abstentions. With a surprise attack from the prohibitionist front, during the plenary session of the General Assembly it was decided to resume the debate in Autumn 2004. In the meantime, the new Spanish government changed its position, but Germany rushed to join the prohibitionist front, fortified by the fact that the Vatican obtained special status as UN observer. In view of the resumption of the debate in the General Assembly this year, thanks to its status as consultant at the economic and social council of the UN, the Transnational Radical Party and the Luca Coscioni Association organised a meeting during the 60th session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva with Luca Coscioni, Marco Cappato and European and American scientists and researchers, during which an international appeal was launched to the Secretary General and to the UN member states. At the beginning of June, the group of legal consultants of Asian countries called a meeting of experts at the UN library, coordinated by the Genetics Policy Institute in which Christopher Reeve also participated. During coming weeks the international appeal will be one of the tools for world antiprohibitionist mobilisation on scientific research. Further information on UN events is available at http://www.un.org/law/cloning by Marco Perduca * Marco Perduca is Member of the Board of the LCA and the Transnational Radical Party representative at the UN

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