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Rights Chief Endorses Death Penalty Moratorium

UN human rights chief endorses Assembly call for moratorium on death penalty

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) today welcomed the General Assembly's resolution calling on all States to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

"The General Assembly has taken a truly landmark step," said Louise Arbour in a statement issued from UNHCR headquarters in Geneva after yesterday's vote.

"Over 100 States, from all parts of the world, have joined together to call for an end to the death penalty. Never before has there been such wide agreement that the time has come to put an end to this practice, which is an unworthy punishment in the twenty-first century."

In yesterday's vote in an Assembly plenary session, 104 Member States voted in favour of the resolution, while 54 voted against and 29 abstained. All Assembly resolutions are non-binding.

Ms. Arbour called on the States that voted against the resolution to reconsider their stance.

"After lengthy and considered negotiation and debate, a clear majority of the States of the world have now spoken and expressed a new standard of conduct in this area. I call on those States that did not feel themselves able to join this vote to reassess their stance and to join the view that has been so clearly and broadly expressed by the General Assembly."

Ms. Arbour's remarks echo a statement yesterday by a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which the UN chief also said the Assembly vote was further proof of an emerging trend towards the eventual abolition of capital punishment.


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