UN votes once again to end executions

Amnesty International:

The UN General Assembly’s human rights committee today [11 November] adopted a resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, the third since 2007.

The resolution was adopted by 107 votes in favour, 38 against with 36 abstentions at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee in New York.

The resolution garnered more support from UN Member States than the previous resolution in 2008, confirming the worldwide trend towards ending the use of capital punishment.

“This third resolution by the UN General Assembly in favour of a moratorium on executions is yet another milestone in the campaign to end premeditated killing by the state,” said José Luis Díaz, Amnesty International’s representative at the UN in New York.

“Once again, a clear majority of countries have committed to the goal of abolishing the death penalty, the ultimate denial of human rights”.

When the UN was founded in 1945 only eight states had abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Today, 136 out of the 192 UN member states have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

Bhutan, Kiribati, Maldives, Mongolia and Togo changed their vote to back the moratorium. In a further sign of support, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Solomon Islands and Thailand moved from opposition to abstention.

“These positive changes are an encouraging development that we hope will be followed by concrete steps by these states to remove capital punishment from national legislation as soon as possible”, added José Luis Díaz.

The General Assembly is expected to endorse the resolution in its plenary session in December. Amnesty International urges all UN Member States to support the plenary resolution and, if still retaining the death penalty, to immediately establish a moratorium on executions while considering abolition.

Read also: The United Nations’ resolution here:

Three written amendments to the draft, as well as one oral amendment, were put forward by delegations who said that, under the Charter of the United Nations, the Organization was unauthorized to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State.  All the proposed amendments were rejected by recorded vote.

The amendment proposed by Egypt was rejected by a vote of 62 in favour to 79 against, with 31 abstentions.  The amendment proposed by Botswana was rejected by a vote of 51 in favour to 81 against, with 33 abstentions.  Singapore’s amendment was rejected by a vote of 58 in favour to 79 against, with 30 abstentions.  The oral amendment offered by Bahamas was rejected by a vote of 54 in favour to 82 against, with 29 abstentions.

The representative of Singapore said there was no international consensus on the death penalty.  It was not a human rights issue, but a criminal justice matter allowed under international law.   Singapore and other retentionist countries had tried to work on the language of the main text with the co-sponsors, but some had refused to engage in dialogue.  Why was that so?  Some countries wanted things either their way, or not at all.  The amendment was critical in balancing the tone of the draft resolution.  The question today was not about death penalty per se; it was about the sovereign right of a country to decide the issue by itself.

AndUN opposition to executions grows by AFP.

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