The legal committee of the United Nations' General Assembly voted on Friday (February 18) by a slim majority in favor of a non–legally binding agreement that asks member states to prohibit reproductive cloning and adopt legislation to respect "human dignity" and "human life." But the text, which one diplomat said was intentionally ambiguous, does not define when life begins.

The final declaration asks member states to "prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." If adopted and approved by the General Assembly, the declaration is not legally binding, so there would be no penalties for countries that do not implement relevant legislation.

The latest declaration, slightly modified from an earlier proposal put forth by Italy in November, was drafted as a compromise between two deeply divided groups, one of which called for an outright ban on all forms...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?