Resolution 1352 (2003)1
Human stem cell research
1. The Parliamentary Assembly recalls its
previous work on bioethics and, in particular, its Opinions
N° 198 (1996)
on the draft convention on human rights and
N° 202 (1997)
on the draft additional protocol to that convention on the prohibition of
cloning human beings.
2. It notes that the aim of stem cell
research is to add new tools for the development of treatments of several
diseases that, up to now, have been incurable or not effectively curable.
3. Human stem cells may be derived from a
growing number of tissues and fluids from humans of any age and are not
limited to embryonic sources.
4. Any therapeutic use of stem cells that is
not derived from the patient has to surmount the barrier of rejection (which
might be avoided through cloning techniques).
5. The harvesting of embryonic stem cells for
the time being necessitates the destruction of human embryos.
6. Furthermore, the use of xenotechnologies
for growing human stem cells for example feeder cells of animal origin or
chimera cloning increases the risk of transmission of new and dangerous
infectious diseases (TSE, HIV, Sars).
7. The Assembly points out that a number of
embryonic human stem cell lines suitable for scientific research are already
8. It recalls that Article 18 of the Council
of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention)
expressly states that where the law allows research on embryos in vitro,
it shall ensure adequate protection of the embryo. The details of this
regulation should be the subject of an additional protocol to be prepared by
the Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI).
9. The same article expressly prohibits the
creation of human embryos for research purposes.
10. The destruction of human beings for
research purposes is against the right to life of all humans and against the
moral ban on any instrumentalisation of humans.
11. Therefore the Assembly calls on member
i. to promote stem cell research as long as
it respects the life of human beings in all states of their development;
ii. to encourage scientific techniques that
are not socially and ethically divisive in order to advance the use of cell
pluripotency and develop new methods in regenerative medicine;
iii. to sign and ratify the Oviedo
Convention to make effective the prohibition of the production of human
embryos for research;
iv. to promote common European basic
research programmes in the field of adult stem cells;
v. to ensure that, in countries where it is
allowed, any research on stem cells involving the destruction of human
embryos is duly authorised and monitored by the appropriate national bodies;
vi. to respect the decision of countries
not to take part in international research programmes which are against
ethical values enshrined in national legislation and not to expect such
countries to contribute either directly or indirectly to such research;
vii. to give priority to the ethical
aspects of research over those of a purely utilitarian and financial nature;
viii. to promote the establishment of
bodies where scientists and representatives from civil society can discuss
different kinds of projects on human stem cell research with a view to
strengthening transparency and democratic accountability.
Assembly debate on 2 October 2003 (33rd Sitting) (see
report of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, rapporteur: Mr
opinion of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr
Text adopted by the Assembly
on 2 October 2003 (33rd Sitting).