Following German decision on stem cell imports: Council of Europe Secretary General recalls importance of Biomedicine Convention

February 1, 2002

Strasbourg, 31 January 2002

Subsequent to the vote in the German Bundestag, allowing the importation of human stem cells from abroad under strict control, the Secretary General of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, Walter Schwimmer, today asked for speedy ratification of the Organisation's Convention on Biomedicine throughout the continent.

"The moment research involving embryos is possible in an increasing number of countries, we are confronted with a new challenge for human rights as such and for the dignity of the human being. The Convention on Biomedicine and Human Rights of the Council of Europe stipulates that where national legislation permits research into embryos, the latter must be adequately protected. Today, the convention is the only pan-European protection mechanism in the new developing field of biomedicine. It has been signed to date by 30 member States and ratified by 11 of them. I call on the remaining member States to follow this example and accept, as soon as possible, the protection offered by this convention", Mr Schwimmer said.

The Convention's Additional Protocol which entered into force last March, is the first and only binding international agreement banning human cloning.

For more information on Council of Europe activities in the field of biomedicine see: http://www.coe.int/Files/Bioethics

Press Contact
Council of Europe Spokesperson and Press Division
Tel. +33 3 88 41 25 60
Fax. +33 3 88 41 39 11
E-mail: PressUnit@coe.int

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