General Assembly committee backs global moratorium against death penalty

15 November 2007 – A committee of the United Nations General Assembly voted today to back a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions with a view to eventually abolishing the death penalty entirely.

The Assembly’s third committee, which deals with human rights issues, voted 99 to 52, with 33 abstentions, in favour of the resolution, which states “that there is no conclusive evidence of the death penalty’s deterrent value and that any miscarriage or failure of justice in the death penalty’s implementation is irreversible and irreparable.”

The resolution will now go before the full 192-member Assembly for a vote next month. All Assembly resolutions are non-binding.

The resolution welcomes “the decisions taken by an increasing number of States to apply a moratorium on executions, followed in many cases by the abolition of the death penalty,” and expresses deep concern that the death penalty continues to be applied in some countries.

It calls on nations that do impose the death penalty to ensure they meet internationally agreed minimum standards on the safeguards for those facing execution, and to provide the United Nations Secretary-General with information about their use of capital punishment and observation of the safeguards.

Further, the resolution asks countries to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty, such as by reducing the number of offences for which it may be imposed, and calls on those States that have abolished the practice to not reintroduce it.

In the past two days, before the resolution was put to a vote by the third committee, more than a dozen proposed amendments to the text were rejected by committee members.

The third committee also passed a resolution today, this time by consensus without a vote, calling for the elimination of rape and other forms of sexual violence in all their manifestations, including in conflict and related situations.

The text urges States to take special measures to protect women and girls from gender-based violence; to end impunity for perpetrators of such crimes; to provide victims with greater access to health care, including trauma counselling; to promote human rights education and conduct public awareness campaigns; and to consider ratifying or acceding to all human rights treaties on the issue, particularly the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol.

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