We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

The United Nations (UN) dropped plans to draft an international treaty banning human cloning on Friday (19 November). Instead, member states will meet to agree on a declaration — a much weaker legal text — next February.

The declaration would simply encourage member states to pass national laws on cloning that match its recommendations.

For more than one year, the UN has been debating whether or not to adopt an international treaty banning cloning (see UN delays vote on cloning ban — again).

"There is such division in the international community that any treaty would not make it, so the idea of the declaration is to find some general language that we could all live with," says Marc Pecsteen, a Belgian diplomat involved in the UN talks.

While there is near-unanimous support for a ban on reproductive cloning – the creation of individuals through cloning – nations are divided on the matter of therapeutic cloning, which uses the techniques of cloning to further medical research without creating new individuals.

The UN legal committee has been struggling over two proposed treaties, one from Costa Rica backing a total ban on cloning, and one from Belgium supporting a ban on reproductive but not therapeutic cloning.

The Costa Rican proposal was backed by 62 nations, including the United States. The Belgian proposal was backed by 22 countries.

On Friday, Italy proposed a declaration that, if adopted, would call on member states to adopt laws prohibiting attempts to create human life through cloning, as well as genetic engineering techniques "contrary to human dignity".

According to the Associated Press news agency, "a key factor in [last week's] agreement was the attitude of Islamic countries", which are "deeply divided" on this matter.