Statement by Ms. Elena Thoma

 Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the Sixth Committee


at the 59th session of the General Assembly

 on agenda item 150:

"International Convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings"


22 October, 2004

Mr. Chairman,

This being the first time I take the floor during this Session, allow me to extend to you and the other members of the Bureau the most sincere congratulations of my delegation on your well-deserved election to your respective offices. We are convinced that with your wide experience and recognized diplomatic skill, you are conducting this Committee's work in a constructive manner that will lead to fruitful results.

Mr. Chairman

We have been attentively following the debate on the question of an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings, which is being discussed in the Sixth Committee for a fourth year, and we have carefully noted the contents of the texts of the two draft resolutions contained in documents A/C.6/59/L.2 and A/C.6/59/L.8, each with an impressive list of cosponsors, ably introduced yesterday by the delegations of Costa Rica and Belgium respectively.

The questions put before us are far from being entirely legal. The issue of human cloning, whether for reproductive or therapeutic purposes, raises ethical, moral, philosophical and scientific issues that can be approached in a different and diverging manner by many delegations, as we have seen in the past, but also during the debate held in this Committee yesterday and this morning.

My delegation regrets the division of the Committee on this difficult and sensitive issue, which prevents us from achieving concrete results in the elaboration of an international convention, which will acclaim universal support.

Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus is firmly opposed to the reproductive cloning of human beings. At the national level, we have already adopted binding legislation, implementing the 1998 First Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Biomedicine, which prohibits the cloning of human beings for reproductive purposes. At the international level, we take into full consideration the significant legal instruments elaborated by UNESCO, WHO, the UN Commission on Human Rights and the Council of Europe. We fully support the elaboration of an international convention, which would ban the reproductive cloning of human beings, thereby confirming the universal attitude of the international community that the reproductive cloning of human beings is not only unethical but also illegal.

In this connection, we appreciate the realistic approach of the Belgian delegation in introducing draft resolution L.8, which is intended as a compromise solution, in that it deals with human cloning in a single legal instrument containing a mandate for a convention with two elements: firstly, the draft imposes a total prohibition of reproductive cloning, and second, it regulates the issue of therapeutic cloning by compelling states to either totally ban it, or impose a moratorium while waiting for a definitive stance, or impose strict formalities on the exercise of such activities.

At the same time, we understand and appreciate the concerns of the many delegations cosponsoring draft resolution L.2, introduced yesterday by the delegation of Costa Rica. While we respect these concerns, and the justification given for them, we also believe that the elaboration of an international convention on cloning should be dealt with by this Committee as a matter of urgency. The debate on the ethical, moral and scientific aspects of cloning can take many more years if we refrain from taking immediate action, and as a consequence the continuation of unethical and illegal practices that we all condemn will be allowed, in the absence of any international legal instrument.

Mr. Chairman,

We understand that the questions put before us are not suited for simple answers, and still lead to divergent points of view. We also have a great interest in upholding the consensus tradition of the Sixth Committee, since we are convinced that a mandate for a convention, which aims at universality, can only be based on consensus, if it is to prove effective.

We feel and urge delegations to avoid voting by exploring other ways of reaching a consensus that is to everyone's best interest at the earliest possible time.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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