11/20/2004, 00.00
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United Nations postpones vote on cloning

The decision will be taken in February. A compromise solution close to the anti-cloning position is on the horizon, but the pro-cloning group is still on the war path.

New York (AsiaNews/CWN) - A deal was struck last night which will see the proposed UN treaty to ban human cloning downgraded to a nonbinding declaration. The discussion on the declaration will commence in February.

While a strong majority of countries, including the United States, backed the Costa Rican proposal for a comprehensive ban on human cloning, a competing Belgian proposal backed by powerful developed nations, particularly Britain, Japan and South Korea, aimed to allow human cloning as long as the cloned human embryos were not permitted to be born.

The proposal to have a nonbinding declaration rather than a treaty was made by Italy. The wording, however, was true to the Costa Rican proposal. The Italian delegate proposed a declaration "to prohibit any attempts to create human life through cloning processes and any research intended to achieve that aim."

Compared to the original proposal, the new text refers to the embryos created by cloning for scientific and therapeutic purposes as 'human life' and not as 'human beings'.

However, Belgian leaders wanted even the wording on a nonbinding declaration to be sufficiently vague so as to be meaningless. Belgian diplomat Marc Pecsteen said: "Unfortunately, 'human life' is not ambiguous enough in a way and that's why we have a problem with it."

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