|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Death Penalty Difficult to Reconcile with Human Rights, Says Secretary-General
in Video Message, Urging All States Still Clinging to It to Abolish It
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s video message for the French Foreign Ministry Meeting on the Death Penalty, in Paris, 9 October:
His Excellency, Laurent Fabius, Foreign Minister of France,
Esteemed representatives of non-governmental organizations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
People around the world have long demanded an end to capital punishment. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly advanced this cause by adopting its first resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
Since that landmark vote, there has been a growing, global trend against capital punishment. Today, some 150 States have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it.
The message for abolition is heard across legal systems, traditions, customs and religious backgrounds. It is heard in all regions. I welcome this trend and encourage States who still cling to the death penalty to follow suit.
The death penalty is difficult to reconcile with human rights, including the right to life. The taking of life is too absolute — too irreversible — for one human being to inflict it on another, even when backed by a legal process. There have been cases in countries with advanced legal systems where innocent people were put to death.
The death penalty invariably entails cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Application of the death penalty tends to be discriminatory. The poor, the powerless and persons belonging to minority communities are executed in disproportionate numbers.
At the current session of the General Assembly, a new resolution on a moratorium will be discussed. I urge all States to support its adoption.
I welcome France’s initiative to launch a global campaign. I hope it will help to reinforce the emerging consensus on abolition. The United Nations stands with you in doing all that we can to end the death penalty. Thank you.
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