UPDATE ON THE UNITED NATIONS AND CLONING
By Jeanne Head, R.N., U.N. Representative for National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund and International Right to Life Federation
The substantive debate on cloning which began in the United Nations last year was over whether or not the negotiating mandate should be for a Comprehensive Convention to ban all human cloning or if the negotiating mandate would be for a ban on "live born" cloning only, which would allow the creation and killing of cloned human embryos for research purposes - - in effect, a "clone and kill" Convention.
On November 6, by a close vote of 80-79 with 15 abstentions in the Sixth (legal) Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, a motion was passed for a two-year delay in discussion and action on the parameters of a mandate for the negotiation by a working group that would draft the text for a Convention Banning Human Cloning. This was not a vote on the substance of the debate on human cloning but a procedural vote to delay.
It is sad that action by the United Nations failed to move forward on such an urgent and critical ethical and human rights issue.
The growing consensus for a principled proposal for a total ban was a result of intense efforts led by Costa Rica, the Bush Administration, the Holy See with the assistance of numerous other nations which co-sponsored the proposal, and pro-life Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), including National Right to Life.
The narrowly passed procedural motion for non-action and deferral for two years was proposed by the chair of the 57-member Organization of Islamic States (OIC). In spite of the fact that 16 of its members are co-sponsors of the Costa Rican Resolution for a total ban (12 of the co-sponsors voted against the non-action proposal, three did not vote, and ten other OIC members either did not vote or abstained), the chair of the OIC claimed that this action was a consensus decision by the OIC. All but two of the Arab OIC members voted for the non-action.
In its statement, the OIC emphasized that this motion represented no decision on the substance of the matter, but was an effort to gain more time for Muslim scientific and religious experts to study the issue. The representative of Uganda, an OIC member, spoke strongly against the motion. The motion stopped action on two substantive resolutions.
The first, sponsored by Costa Rica and co-sponsored by the U.S. and 64 other nations, proposed a mandate to draft a total ban and called for a moratorium on all human cloning research until a Convention is adopted. A broad spectrum of nations who either co-sponsored or pledged to vote for the total ban included European, East European, Latin American, Central Asian, and African nations.
The second, sponsored by Belgium and about 20 other nations (and supported by France and Germany, despite the fact that Germany explicitly outlaws such research), proposed a mandate to draft a "clone and kill" Convention banning "reproductive" or "live born" cloning only with possible regulations or restrictions on experimental or so-called "therapeutic" cloning.
Both sides privately acknowledged that without the procedural motion, the Costa Rican proposal, which had been steadily gaining momentum and would have been voted on first, was expected to pass with over 100 votes.
The Belgian "clone and kill" proposal, if voted on, would have been voted on last, and was expected to fail.
The proposed Convention was initiated by France and Germany two years ago as an urgent matter of serious moral consequences.
In his speech of September 24, 2002, Mr. Christian Much of Germany stated, "We have a moral obligation to act now!" Yet Germany, together with France, voted Thursday for the two-year delay in action.
The Resolution proposed by France and Germany last year, which was for a mandate for negotiations on a "clone and kill" Convention without any restrictions on experimental cloning, failed to gain consensus in the face of the growing support for a mandate calling for a total ban then sponsored by the U.S., the Philippines, Spain, and a number of other countries.
The following list shows how each country voted on the two-year delay. The pro-life (anti-cloning) vote was "no."
International Convention against Human Cloning
PROCEDURAL MOTION FOR 2 YEAR DEFERRAL
The Pro-Life (Anti-Cloning) Vote was "no."
VOTES IN FAVOUR: 80
1. Algeria (OIC) 41. Lithuania
2. Argentina 42. Luxembourg
3. Armenia 43. Malaysia (OIC)
4. Azerbaijan (OIC) 44. Maldives (OIC)
5. Bahamas 45. Mali (OIC)
6. Bahrain (OIC) 46. Mauritania (OIC)
7. Belarus 47. Mauritius
8. Belgium 48. Mexico
9. Botswana 49. Monaco
10. Brazil 50. Morocco (OIC)
11. Brunei Darussalam (OIC) 51. Myanmar
12. Bulgaria 52. Namibia
13. Cambodia 53. Netherlands
14. China 54. New Zealand
15. Comoros (OIC) 55. Niger (OIC)
16. Croatia 56. Oman (OIC)
17. Cuba 57. Pakistan (OIC)
18. Cyprus 58. Qatar (OIC)
19. Czech Republic 59. Republic of Korea
20.Democratic People's 60. Russian Federation
Republic of Korea
21. Denmark 61. Saudi Arabia (OIC)
22. Djibouti (OIC) 62. Senegal (OIC)
23. Egypt (OIC) 63. Singapore
24. Estonia 64. Slovenia
25. Finland 65. South Africa
26. France 66. Sri Lanka
27. Gabon (OIC) 67. Sudan (OIC)
28. Germany 68. Swaziland
29. Greece 69. Sweden
30. Hungary 70. Switzerland
31. Iceland 71. Syrian Arab Rep. (OIC)
32. India 72. Thailand
33. Indonesia (OIC) 73. Tonga
34. Iran (OIC) 74. Tunisia (OIC)
35. Japan 75. Turkey (OIC)
36. Jordan (OIC) 76. United Arab Emirates (OIC)
37. Kuwait (OIC) 77. United Kingdom
38. Latvia 78. Viet Nam
39. Lebanon (OIC) 79. Yemen (OIC)
40. Liechtenstein 80. Zimbabwe
VOTES AGAINST: 79
1. Albania (OIC) 41. Malta
2. Andorra 42. Marshall Islands
3. Angola 43. Micronesia
4. Antigua-Barbuda 44. Nauru
5. Australia 45. Nepal
6. Austria 46. Nicaragua
7. Barbados 47. Nigeria (OIC)
8. Belize 48. Norway
9. Bolivia 49. Palau
10. Bosnia/Herzegovina 50. Panama
11. Burundi 51. Papua New Guinea
12. Central African Republic 52. Paraguay
13. Chile 53. Philippines
14. Costa Rica 54. Poland
15. Democratic Republic
of the Congo 55. Portugal
16. Dominica 56. Rwanda
17. Dominican Republic 57. St. Kitts and Nevis
18. Ecuador 58. Saint Lucia
19. El Salvador 59. St. Vincent-Grenadines
20. Equatorial Guinea 60. Samoa
21. Eritrea 61. San Marino
22. Ethiopia 62. Sao Tome and Principe
23. Fiji 63. Sierra Leone (OIC)
24. Gambia (OIC) 64. Slovakia
25. Georgia 65. Solomon Islands
26. Grenada 66. Somalia (OIC)
27. Guatemala 67. Spain
28. Guinea (OIC) 68. Suriname (OIC)
29. Guyana (OIC) 69. Tajikistan (OIC)
30. Haiti 70. Timor-Leste
31. Honduras 71. Trinidad and Tobago
32. Ireland 72. Tuvalu
33. Israel 73. Uganda (OIC)
34. Italy 74. United Rep. of Tanzania
35. Kazakhstan (OIC) 75. United States
36. Kenya 76. Uzbekistan (OIC)
37. Kyrgyzstan (OIC) 77. Vanuatu
38. Lesotho 78. Venezuela
39. Madagascar 79. Zambia
1. Bangladesh (OIC) 9. Peru
2. Bhutan 10. Republic of Moldova
3. Burkina Faso (OIC) 11. Romania
4. Cameroon (OIC) 12. Serbia/Montenegro
5. Canada 13. The FYR Macedonia
6. Cape Verde 14. Ukraine
7. Colombia 15. Uruguay
COUNTRIES THAT DID NOT VOTE: 17
1. Afghanistan (OIC) 10. Liberia
2. Benin (Co-Sponsor L2, OIC) 11. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (OIC)
3. Chad (Co-Sponsor L2, OIC) 12. Mongolia
4. Congo 13. Mozambique (OIC)
5. Cote D'Ivoire (Co-Sponsor 14. Seychelles
6. Ghana 15. Togo (OIC)
7. Guinea-Bissau (OIC) 16. Turkmenistan (Co-Sponsor
8. Iraq (OIC) L2, OIC)
9. Kiribati 17. Laos People's Dem. Rep.