Increased Support for the Resolution on Death Penalty

12/11/2008 // A large majority of states from all regions adopted a second United Nations resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.  105 countries, six more than last year, voted for the resolution when the Third Committee voted Thursday.

– The voting confirms that an increasing number of countries support the moratorium on the use of death penalty. The fight is not won, but we know that more countries now consider their use of death penalty. Today’s adoption will be a support for these countries, said Ambassador Mona Juul after the voting. 


Amendments Rejected

Before the committee could take action on the resolution Thursday they had to vote over seven proposed amendments from around 40 countries that are against the resolution.
– The proposed amendments are against the object and purpose of the resolution. First of all the concept of biennialisation, said Mona Juul when she gave a statement on the seventh amendment on Tuesday.
Norway is one of the co-sponsors, who have decided to biennialise the resolution in order to give member states adequate time to review and possibly change national legislation pertaining to the death penalty.
– In light of the importance we attach to the moratorium on the death penalty the matter should be considered at least every second year, she said.

All the amendments proposed by the pro-death penalty countries were overwhelmingly defeated.

This year the number of co-sponsors also had risen to 89, two more than last year. And the resolution was adopted by the Third committee with 105 against 48 votes, and with 33 abstentions. Lars years the voting numbers in the Third committee were 99 for, 52 against and 3 abstentions. In the General Assembly the numbers were 104 against 54 votes (29 abstained). The General Assembly will vote on the draft resolution in plenary in December. 

Measuring Progress 
In her statement in Third Committee against the proposed amendments from the countries against the resolution Juul also emphasised the importance of giving the Secretary General the best possible input to provide an informed report on the progress of the Moratorium of the use of the death penalty.
– The report of the Secretary General is conceived as a progress report. This year's resolution is clearly procedural in nature. A progress report referring to a previous resolution (which is not an unprecedented request) would allow the Secretary General to continue consideration of a dynamic issue, reflecting ongoing developments and legislative processes in member states. Calling upon member states (i.e. all of them) would provide the Secretary General with the best possible input to provide an informed report.

As of November 2008 137 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. During 2007, at least 1,252 people were executed, and at least 3,347 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries.

The decrease in countries carrying out executions is dramatic. In 1989, executions were carried out in 100 states. In 2007 Amnesty International recorded executions in 24 countries. 


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