15 November 2007


15 November 2007
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

press conference on third committee action on death penalty

The Permanent Representative of Portugal, João Manuel Guerra Salgueiro, told correspondents at a Headquarters press conference this evening that a draft resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty would be submitted for the General Assembly’s approval for the first time in its history, after Member States voted in favour of the text this afternoon.

He said the draft proposal had been put before the Main Committee of the General Assembly concerned with examining social, humanitarian affairs and human rights issues -- commonly known as the Third Committee -- which approved the measure by a vote of 99 countries in favour to 52 against, with 33 abstentions.

Mr. Guerra Salguiero added that wording for the resolution was approved after a series of informal consultations lasting several days.  During that time, opponents of the resolution had suggested no fewer than 14 amendments to the text.

Those proposed changes were all rejected by the Third Committee today, preserving the “solidarity” of the resolution, he said.

When asked to comment on the accusation made by detractors that the resolution was a means for some countries to impose their values on others, Mr. Guerra Salguiero stressed that the text had been a cross-regional initiative involving 10 co-authors from at least five regions represented at the United Nations -- the European Union region and New Zealand; Africa; Latin America; Asia; and Eastern Europe.

“I repeat it on record that this resolution is not a European Union initiative but a cross-regional one,” he said, adding that a lengthy negotiation process preceded the tabling of that resolution before the Third Committee today.

He said he believed approval of the resolution reflected a “complex trend” in world opinion regarding the death penalty, where more and more countries were seeking to abolish its use, while those that chose to retain the death penalty were using it only sparingly.

If adopted by the General Assembly, the resolution would have the United Nations call on Member States to progressively restrict the use of the death penalty, as well as reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed.  In addition, he said, it would have countries establish a moratorium on executions, and provide the Secretary-General with information relating to the use of capital punishment and the observance of the safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.