A Victory for Life and Dignity

It's not every day that you hear me praise the United Nations (UN). In my opinion, the organization has an unfortunate tendency to get it wrong on a lot of issues. But with a recent resolution, it has finally gotten something right -- and on one of the most important issues of our time. On March 8, the UN approved a resolution that calls for an international ban on human cloning. The resolution seeks to "prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." The resolution passed only after a long, hard fight -- so long and hard that the final version was not quite as strong as we had hoped. Although many countries were determined to ban all human cloning, a significant number wanted to ban only "reproductive cloning." Those countries wanted so-called "therapeutic cloning," or cloning human embryos for research, to remain legal. So cloning opponents, without enough votes for an outright ban, had to make the resolution non-binding. While the resolution urges all UN member nations to ban all forms of cloning, it can't force them to do so. Still, I believe it is a major step forward. UN declarations, even nonbinding ones, have some moral force; the UN's Universal Declaration on Human Rights was arguably one of the more influential documents of the twentieth century. And like that declaration, the cloning resolution can be used to put pressure on UN member countries -- like Britain and France, which at this point still want to keep therapeutic cloning. Our own government, which stood firm in support of the cloning resolution, is in a very good position to exert such pressure. And maybe it's going to help exert pressure on some foot-dragging senators here at home. Another benefit of this resolution is that we have now got a good sense of who our allies are in this fight -- and there are more than you might expect. Even Germany, which originally joined with France to lead the effort to ban only reproductive cloning, ended up backing the final anti-cloning resolution. The reason may be that the German people can still remember the horrors of Nazi medical experiments on humans a generation or two ago. That's a development to be welcomed and encouraged. And so is the support of more than eighty other countries, from Poland to Italy to Costa Rica and Honduras. They all voted for the ban. We need to strengthen those alliances and develop policies that span the traditional divides between First-World and Third-World countries, between pro-life and pro-choice, between conservatives and progressives. As Wesley Smith points out in the Weekly Standard, "Pro-cloners frequently claim that their adversaries are merely a collection of Taliban-like religious fanatics seeking to impose their religious views on science. But the diverse and multicultural coalition which came together in the UN vote proves that assertion isn't true." Just over eight years after the "biotech century" began with the cloning of Dolly the sheep, we've taken a first big step toward containing this technology and establishing the principle that human dignity must be respected first. Coming from the UN, an organization that is not generally known for its respect for human dignity, that's a victory worth celebrating.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary