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UN Vote on Global Treaty Banning Human Cloning Deferred

The U.N. General Assembly on Monday decided to put off for a year negotiations for a controversial global treaty banning human cloning that the Bush administration wants to extend to research on stem cells.

The assembly's legal committee, by a one-vote margin, last month said a treaty should not be negotiated for two years, thereby virtually derailing the measure, opposed by some 60 scientific academies and groups around the world.

But the two sides compromised in what a U.S. envoy said was the best deal Washington could get. However, several diplomats said a year was not enough to bridge differences between those wanting further research and the total ban proposed by the United States and some Latin American and European Catholic nations.

"The $200 a minute spent on the debate next year is not going to take us forward," said one European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

All 191 U.N. members agree on a treaty that would prohibit cloning of human beings. But nations are divided about whether to allow cloning human embryos for stem cell or other research, known as "therapeutic" cloning.

Costa Rica led the arguments and drafted a resolution for the United States and its 60 supporters that include some Latin American and European Catholic nations. They portray "therapeutic" cloning as the taking of human lives.

Another 30 nations, led by Britain and Belgium, are just as adamant that a global ban on cloning research was out of the question and said they would not support such a treaty.

"It is clear that there is no consensus in respect to therapeutic cloning research," Britain's deputy ambassador, Adam Thomson, told the assembly.

"But by ignoring this fact and pressing for action to ban all cloning, supporters of the Costa Rican resolution have effectively destroyed the possibility of action on an important area on which we are all agreed -- a ban on reproductive cloning," Thomson said.

Source Date: Dec 09 2003
Source Publication: Reuters