Introductory Statement on
Moratorium on the use of the Death Penalty
It is time to raise anew, at the General Assembly, the important issue of rethinking the use of the death penalty. When the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted in 1948, 8 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes, now 130 countries from all regions of the world have done so in law or in practice and only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006. We are encouraged by the decision of many countries to establish a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step to reviewing the utility of the death penalty, which was followed in many cases by its abolition. We have an opportunity to build on the momentum created by the statement delivered during the 61st Session of the GA which presented the collective view of 95 Member States.
The death penalty essentially involves human life, it must be seen then as a matter of Human Rights. What we are addressing in this draft resolution is the right of everyone to life, as was universally affirmed in article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently reaffirmed in other international instruments. Consequently, in our view this is not a matter of unwarranted interference in the domestic jurisdiction of any State, but rather an appeal to enhance human rights and human dignity.
The purpose of this resolution is not to interfere or impose our views on others. Our intention is to reinforce and encourage the growing trend towards a phasing out of the death penalty.
The protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty has long been a matter of international concern. In 1971 and 1977 the desirability of eventually abolishing the death penalty was spelled out in the resolution 2857 as well as in resolution 32/61. From 1997 to 2005, the former Commission on HR had annually adopted a resolution on the death penalty and called upon States to “abolish the death penalty and in the meantime to establish a moratorium on executions”. It is therefore entirely appropriate for the General Assembly to pass a resolution calling on states to establish a moratorium on use of the death penalty.
Last but not least, we cannot forget the irreversibility and irreparableness nature of capital punishment. Even nowadays, no country, no legal system even the most advanced one is immune to miscarriages of justice. There are great risks of executing innocent people, which is irreversibly and irreparable.
The co-sponsors of this draft resolution would like to have a straightforward process in the adoption of this text with a broadest support possible.
I have the pleasure to inform you that Haiti, Mozambique, Mali and Cambodia has joined the list of co-sponsors, bringing the total to 78 co-sponsors.