Now that human clones are everywhere, how should we treat them? It's not just Clonaid asking anymore. The United Nations has just released a policy report saying that if we cannot reach global consensus on banning human cloning, we'll have to cope with a world full of human clones. And you know what that means. We could be facing a massive Clone Lib movement! So what does the most powerful body of international wonkitude recommend we do about the coming clone peril?
Says Brendan Tobin of the Irish Center for Human Rights, an author of the report:
Failure to outlaw reproductive cloning means it is just a matter of time until cloned individuals share the planet. If failure to compromise continues, the world community must accept responsibility and ensure that any cloned individual receives full human rights protection. It will also need to embark on an extensive awareness building and sensitivity program to ensure that the wider society treats clones with respect and ensure they are protected against prejudice, abuse or discrimination.
Most of the report urges the international community to set up better laws against human reproductive cloning, essentially threatening them with the stick of having to take sensitivity training to deal with clone co-workers. I guess the worst thing that the UN can imagine is another minority group demanding its rights. They also talk about the two main arguments against human reproductive cloning: religious concerns, and fear of commoditizing human life. (They leave out what to me seems like the most important issue, which is that making a human clone is essentially to experiment on a human subject without permission.)
No matter how you slice it, the UN document is pretty damn anti-clone. For a less clone-phobic legal analysis of clone rights, check out law professor Kerry MacIntosh's book Illegal Beings: Human Clones and the Law (Cambridge University Press). At least she offers several legal methods to assert civil rights for clones. Getty Image by Martin Oeser.
Is Human Cloning Inevitable: Future Options for UN Governance [UN University]