Research on human embryos has great potentialities in terms of developing new therapies and increasing scientific knowledge. It is nonetheless ethically and legally controversial. This paper seeks to establish whether the European Convention on Human Rights and the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine provide a key to accommodate the tension between protection of the human embryo and interest in scientific research. Without a proper analysis of the issue, the risk is that of accepting the evolution of scientific and medical practice as a fait accompli, as if whatever is possible for science were legitimate in law, or will be eventually. This paper consistently identifies the legal limits within which scientific research must be carried out and then assesses the reasonableness of a blanket ban on carrying out scientific research on embryos. Only the passing of time will show us whether the legal limits which arguably cannot be exceeded today will be able to stand up against the impact of scientific progress. [---]