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UN vote boosts support for a global moratorium on the death penalty

 

The vast majority of the world’s countries today threw their weight behind a UN General Assembly resolution to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty globally, Amnesty International said.

 

114 of the UN’s 193 member states today voted in favour of the resolution which will go before the General Assembly Plenary for final adoption in December.

 

“Today’s vote confirms that more and more countries around the world are coming around to the fact that the death penalty is a human rights violation and must end. It is also a clear message to the minority of states that still execute – you are on the wrong side of history,” said Chiara Sangiorgio, Death Penalty expert at Amnesty International.

 

Since 2007 there have been four resolutions calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, with support increasing each time. Overall, the votes in favour of this resolution increased by three since the last time a similar vote took place in 2012.

 

114 states voted in favour, 36 voted against and 34 abstained compared to 111 votes in favour, 41 against and 34 abstentions in December 2012. The draft resolution was co-sponsored by 94 UN Member States from all regions of the world, the highest number yet.

 

New votes in favour came from Eritrea, Fiji, Niger and Suriname. As a further positive sign, Bahrain, Myanmar and Uganda moved from opposition to abstention. Regrettably, Papua New Guinea went from abstention to a vote against the resolution.

 

Today’s vote in the UNGA’s Third Committee, which addresses social, humanitarian and human rights issues, is an important indicator for the main vote on the resolution in the General Assembly Plenary next month, when the resolution is expected to be endorsed. Although not legally binding, UN General Assembly resolutions carry considerable moral and political weight.

 

“Governments around the world should seize the opportunity of today’s vote to renew their dialogue to make this moratorium call a reality – we hope we will see even stronger support come the final vote in December,” said Chiara 

Sangiorgio.

 

Amnesty International urges all UN Member States to support the resolution when it comes for adoption at the plenary session. Those countries still retaining the death penalty should immediately establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards full abolition.

 

Background

 

When the UN was founded in 1945 only eight of the then 51 UN Member States had abolished the death penalty. Today, 95 Member States have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and in total 137 out of the 193 have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

 

The adoption of these ground-breaking resolutions on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty since 2007 has generated momentum to renew the commitment to the abolition of the death penalty.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.