NEW YORK, November 25, 2004 ( – In the aftermath of the crumbling of a United Nations convention on human cloning, both those opposed to human cloning and those in favour are proclaiming victory.

Jeanne Head, the senior pro-life lobbyist at the United Nations, told that looking back at the beginning of the proposed UN ban on human cloning, most countries opposed the initiative since they believed that the issue was nothing more than about restricting research, research involving so-called “therapeutic cloning”.

However, over the past few years, countries have been educated to the fact that human cloning, whether reproductive or therapeutic, involves the creation of a new human being.  Thus therapeutic cloning is about using that newly created human being (at the embryo stage) for research which involves killing the human embryo.  With that education, the Costa Rican proposal for a treaty banning all cloning eventually garnered over 60 co-sponsor countries while the Belgian proposal to allow therapeutic cloning retained a far fewer, but powerful 20 co-sponsors.

Head referred to the Belgian proposal as a “Clone and Kill” bill. Had the UN approved this, she said, “it would have condoned the creation of human life for the express purpose of using this human being for experimentation, a process that necessitates killing human beings in their embryonic stage for their stem cells.”  Emphasizing the importance of having stopped this, she said, “In addition, for the first time, the UN would not only approve this despicable violation, but it would also mandate that States Parties (those who ratify it) pass and enforce laws requiring the killing of another human being.”

Had either the Costa Rican or Belgian proposal passed, the next step would have been negotiations which would eventually have developed into a treaty.  Such a treaty would take minimally three years to enact.  Prior to the vote on the Costa Rican and Belgian proposals, the 191 countries represented were split for various reasons.  AP reports that “a key factor in Thursday’s agreement was the attitude of Islamic countries, who had been largely undecided” about the strongly U.S. supported ban.  That assessment concurs with the fact that it was the Islamic nations which proposed and supported a no action proposal last year to shelve the cloning debate at the UN for two years.

Such a delay tactic was again threatened this year by Belgium and would likely have found favour with the influential 57-nation strong Islamic voting block known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Faced with a potential year-long delay, the Italian proposal to downgrade the convention to a non-binding declaration which maintained a comprehensive ban on human cloning was accepted, with negotiations on its wording to commence in February.

Head said that no treaty is better than a bad treaty, and that the avoidance of a UN treaty sanctioning any form of human cloning is to be counted as a victory.  U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli concurred.  “It’s our long-standing position that all human cloning is wrong, and we are proud of our efforts to prevent human cloning,” he told reporters. “So the fact that there isn’t any action by the U.N. to endorse cloning is a moderate success.”  However, even with the downgrading of the treaty to a declaration, Belgium is again threatening delay tactics since, treaty or declaration, a UN direction to ban all forms of human cloning would be a victory towards the protection of embryonic human life.

Still, with the underhanded chicanery of Belgium, Britain and the 20 other nations supporting human cloning for research purposes, a UN directive to comprehensively ban all human cloning may never be realized. The cloning ban forces however, consider the battle far from over and are preparing to go at it again, with different strategies, in February.  jhw