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Death penalty: at the UN record number of countries vote YES to moratorium

NEW YORK, 15 DECEMBER – The international community took sides once again for the moratorium on the use of death penalty. Compared to 2020’s last test, consensus rose: 125 Members of the General Assembly voted in favor of the resolution presented every two years by a coalition of States, including Italy. 37 States voted against and 22 abstained. Two years ago, 38 ‘no’ had been expressed, alongside 24 abstentions.

125 ‘yes’ a record since 2007

This year’s resolution, introduced by Costa Rica and Australia, secured 127 ‘yes’ during the ‘first reading’ at the Third Commission. Today, the number could have been 126, but the representative of a pro-moratorium State pushed the button past the deadline: their vote therefore could not be counted. Today’s result is a record also when you add  ‘yes’ and abstentions, the total rising to 147, one more than the 146 in 2020 which in turn was also a record. As another criterion for comparison, in 2007 the countries in favor of the moratorium were 104 with 54 against and 29 abstentions.


pena di morteAdopted at the time of, among other things, the hangings in Iran of two protesters for women’s rights, the resolution is the ninth in 15th years. In 2007 Italy led the way. Once again, Italian diplomacy, in close collaboration with civil society organizations including Amnesty International Italia, Comunità di Sant’Egidio and Hands off Cain, has worked to the very last moment to achieve the greatest possible consensus.

Italy’s comment

Italy therefore welcomes the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the resolution. The increase in support, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirms the strong signal of the international community towards a progressive removal of this unjust and inhuman practice, also in light of the recent executions in Iran, which Italy immediately condemned. “So much satisfaction for a result obtained thanks to the Italian commitment against executions in the world. No one can end someone else’s life,” said Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

Changes in the text

The adopted text welcomes some important innovations, including the recognition of the devastating impact on the children of sentenced to death; the recognition of the obligation not to impose capital punishment for crimes committed by people under the age of 18; reference to the importance of transparency in the access to information in order to guarantee a fair trial for defendants.

The Foreign Ministry took the opportunity to reiterate its unconditional opposition to the death penalty, “a cruel and inhuman punishment that, in addition to having no deterrent value towards the crime, makes any judicial error fatally irreversible”. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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