|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS LANDMARK TEXT CALLING FOR MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTYAdopts 54 Resolutions, 12 Decisions Recommended by Third Committee
The resolution calling for “a moratorium on the death penalty”, was passed by a vote of 104 in favour to 54 against, with 29 abstentions. (See annex VI.) It called on all States that still allowed capital punishment to “progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed”. Those countries were also called on to provide the Secretary-General with information on their use of capital punishment and to respect international standards that safeguard the rights of condemned inmates.
Echoes of the intense two-day debate that preceded approval in the Committee of the resolution on a moratorium on executions reverberated in the Assembly hall, with a number of delegations arguing that the death penalty was not illegal under international human rights legislation and that it was the sovereign right of each and every State to determine its own judicial system. Two similar proposals had reached the Assembly in 1994 and 1999; in the first case, it was defeated by eight votes, while in the second, it was withdrawn at the last minute.
Among those delegations opposing the resolution, the representative of Barbados said the European Union and other main sponsors were trying to impose their will on other countries. “Capital punishment remains legal under international law and Barbados wishes to exercise its sovereign right to use it as deterrent to the most serious crimes,” he said just ahead of the vote.
Singapore’s representative said it was unfortunate that the resolution’s co-sponsors had handled the issue not as a debate, but as a lecture. There had never been any attempt to reach consensus. They had ignored the diversity of States and their judicial systems. In addition, they had resorted to pressure tactics and demarches. While the co-sponsors would celebrate their victory, it had come at the expense of acrimony in the Third Committee. Each State had a sovereign right to choose its own political, criminal and judicial systems, he said, stressing that Singapore would continue to follow its own course in the matter....