UN PANEL ADOPTS RESOLUTION CALLING FOR MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY
|United Nations Headquarters, New York City
November 15, 2007: the Third Commission of the United NationsÂ passed apassed a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with the ultimate goal of eventually abolishing the practice despite fierce opposition from several members.
The vote on the highly divisive issue was 99 in favor, 52 against and 33 abstentions. The United States and China joined many developing countries, notably from the Islamic world, in voting no after an acrimonious debate.
The full 192-member General Assembly was widely expected to endorse the decision, possibly next month, according to diplomats.
Opponents decried what they saw as an attempt by the 87 co-sponsors to impose their values on the rest of the world and made it clear that there was no consensus on an issue which they said would further polarize the assembly.
They argued that the death penalty was fundamentally a "criminal justice issue" to be decided by national authorities and saw the resolution as blatant interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
Malaysia, Singapore, Singapore, Egypt, Barbados and the Bahamas were particularly vocal in denouncing an attempt to impose what they call Western values on the rest of the world.
Singapore's UN envoy Vanu Menon said the co-sponsors were trying "to impose a particular set of beliefs on everyone else" and described them as "sanctimonious, hypocritical and intolerant" for having rejected a "genuine dialogue" with opponents.
"This house is divided," said Iran's delegate Mahmoud Jooyabad. "There is no international consensus on the death penalty."
Opponents were particularly angry that 14 amendments they proposed were all rejected, including one proposed by Egypt and supported by a number of Islamic countries and the United States, that sought to insert a paragraph also upholding the right to protect the unborn child.
The resolution states that the death penalty "undermines human dignity" and calls on all states which still maintain the death penalty "to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty."
It also urges them "to restrict its use and reduce the number of offenses for which the death penalty may be imposed" and to respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing the protection of those facing execution.
"The approval of the Moratorium on capital punishment represents the best side of Italy, and the strength of the Radicals when we combine non violence with institutions," Emma Bonino, the Minister for Community Politics, said emotionally on Radio Radicale. "We're convinced that when we work together as a collective we will be able to do even more," Bonino said, referring to the vote that should take place at the General Assembly in the first half of December. "It is a historic evening for supporters of the law and of rights."
Sergio D'Elia, Rosa nel Pugno Parliamentarian and Secretary of Hands Off Cain, and Matteo Mecacci, Vice President of the Senate of the Radical Party and UN representative, commented that the vote today at the United Nations was "a historic victory for the defence of human rights." "With the vote today the United Nations crosses a point of no return in the long battle to put an end to the consummate revenge in the name of the State. It is a victory of a vast community of countries, coming from all continents, that signals a big leap in quality in the way in which the UN confronts questions of human rights," D'Elia and Mecacci said, reminding that Italy's Government, Parliament, and many non government organisations were the primary force behind this drive. 'Us radicals, primarily Marco Pannella and Emma Bonino, started the fight 14 years ago for this objective, along with thousands of militants and subscribers. This objective is a success for non violence and, in the last year and a half, also for hunger and thirst strikes that were decisive in defeating the 'European' party delays that this year impeded the UN from pronouncing on the Moratorium," the two radical exponents said. (Sources: Afp, HOC, 15/11/2007)