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United Nations; United Nations: Call for Death Penalty Moratorium

(Jan. 2, 2008) On December 18, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on capital punishment. The vote, held in a plenary session, was 104 nations in favor of the moratorium, 54 against, and 29 abstaining. The resolution, as all such U.N. General Assembly resolutions, is non-binding. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated of the vote that it was a “bold step by the international community.” He added that he was pleased to see that the proposal garnered support from many regions of the world, saying, “[t]his is further evidence of a trend towards ultimately abolishing the death penalty.” The resolution praises countries that have either implemented a moratorium on executions or ended the death penalty entirely. Regarding nations that continue to use capital punishment, the resolution expresses the hope that those nations will meet internationally agreed minimum standards on safeguards for individuals given death sentences. It also requests that those nations provide information about their death penalty practices to the U.N. Secretary-General. The resolution further asks countries to reduce the number of capital offenses. ( Secretary-General Welcomes Assembly’s Call for Death Penalty Moratorium, UN News, Dec. 18, 2007, unnews@un.org.)