Brussels, 22 Feb 2005
A committee of the United Nations has, in a split vote, approved an international declaration calling on countries to ban all forms of human cloning - both reproductive and therapeutic.
The UN's legal committee approved the resolution by 71 votes to 35, with 43 countries - including all Islamic nations - abstaining. The proposed treaty will now be passed to the UN General Assembly for final approval.
While in principle the resolution calls on all governments to ban even those cloning techniques carried out purely for research purposes, opponents say the fact that so many countries opposed the declaration or abstained from voting means that any final resolution will lack political weight.
The approved text calls for 'the adoption of all measures necessary to protect human life in the application of the life sciences, and to prohibit the application of genetic engineering techniques that may be contrary to human dignity.'
A spokesperson for Singapore's government, which voted against the declaration, complained that the text 'does not capture the diversity of views which have been expressed on this important issue.' Meanwhile Belgium, a leading opponent of a ban on so-called therapeutic cloning in previous UN debates, said that it would not be bound by a text approved by such a narrow margin.
However other countries, such as Costa Rica, hailed the vote as a positive ethical step forward. A spokesperson for the US mission to the UN argued that the declaration was 'stating very clearly that member states should adopt legislation outlawing all cloning practices.'
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