Secretary-General welcomes Assembly’s call for death penalty moratorium

18 December 2007 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed today’s adoption by the General Assembly of a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, saying he is heartened by signs that capital punishment will eventually be abolished worldwide.

In a vote this morning in a plenary session at the Assembly, 104 Member States voted in favour of the resolution, 54 voted against and 29 abstained – a slight rise in the number in favour compared to when the Assembly’s third committee voted on it last month. All resolutions are non-binding.

“Today’s vote represents a bold step by the international community,” Mr. Ban said in a statement released following the Assembly’s action. “I am particularly encouraged by the support expressed for this initiative from many diverse regions of the world. This is further evidence of a trend towards ultimately abolishing the death penalty.”

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 capital punishment 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 UN Secretary-General with information about their use of capital punishment and observation of safeguards.

Further, it 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.

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