A new effort by Costa Rica on Tuesday to obtain a total ban on human cloning—with the support of the United States—was successful as an agreement by consensus was established that obliges the UN to debate the issue in 10 months, instead of postponing the debate for 2 years according to proposals by some European Union countries.
On December 9, the UN General Assembly decided by consensus to address in its next session, which will begin in September, 2004, the question of whether to pass a resolution that would ban human cloning.
The decision was made after Costa Rica—with the support of the United States—began a new offensive to get the UN to urgently work towards the establishment of an international agreement to ban all types of human cloning, including cloning for research purposes.
The United Kingdom, France, Germany and Belgium support so-called “therapeutic cloning,” which would allow for the creation and use of live human beings in embryonic form.
The subject of cloning had been discussed November 6 by a UN committee, which recommended to the entire Assembly the postponing of debate for two years.
The committee was close to ruling in favor of a total ban on human cloning, but a late maneuver by the Belgian delegation resulted in a vote taking place first on the postponement of the debate. That vote passed 80-79.
In a last-minute agreement, the General Assembly accepted the Costa Rican initiative to continue with the debate early next year, thereby rejecting the committee’s recommendation. Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, The Philippines, the United Sates, Ethiopia, Fiji, Kenya and other countries joined in supporting the Costa Rican proposal.
“Today’s decision is an important step forward from last November’s decision, since continuing to postpone debate on this issue would mean that from a practical point of view human cloning for reproductive as well as research purposes would continue to be allowed. Humanity is in need of ethical norms that regulate the research of matter and that provide maximum protection to human dignity. This was the reason for our proposal,” said Roberto Tovar Faja, Foreign Relations Minister for Costa Rica.
“To have obtained the support of so many countries in such a short period of time, and that the voice of Costa Rica in favor of human rights and the dignity of the person has been heard is an extraordinary achievement,” he added.
“This agreement constitutes a step in favor of mankind, since the nations that were opposed to the Costa Rican initiative finally agreed to analyze the issue next year. In the coming months, we will seek out more support in order to ensure that as soon as possible a resolution can be passed,” said Tovar Faja.