8 more countries vote for a universal moratorium!

16 November 2018

On November 13th, 123 UN Member States voted in favour of the resolution for a universal moratorium on the use of the death penalty, 8 more than in 2016. There have never been so many of them! Thanks to this resolution passed every two years at the UN, the traditional blocs that exist at the global, regional and even neighbouring levels are tending to fade away, giving more scope to the global abolitionist movement. Find here the press release and the map of the countries involved.


On November 13th 2018, the Third United Nations Commission, which works specifically on human rights issues, voted by a very large majority in favour of the resolution entitled “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty”. The resolution was adopted by 123 States, 36 voted against, 30 abstained and 4 did not take part in the vote. These results represent a very positive development compared to the vote of the General Assembly in 2016, with 8 more States voting in favour of the resolution, confirming the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty. Why is this biennial UN vote for a universal moratorium important? – Because it reaffirms the international commitment of States to move towards a world without the death penalty – Because it reflects the current situation of the death penalty in the world, both the progress of some States and the way forward in retentionist countries – Because it recalls that the application of the death penalty violates human dignity and calls on all States that still maintain it to institute a moratorium on executions The vote is organised in two stages; this first stage reflects the experts’ vote. It prefigures the final vote that will take place in December at the UN General Assembly, which will decide whether or not to adopt the resolution. It is this final vote that history will remember: that is why, until the vote, ECPM and its partners have planned to increase high-level meetings in order to convince those States that are still reluctant to join the global abolitionist movement. The main positive changes came from African countries, with 6 countries moving from abstention or absence to a positive vote (Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritius, Rwanda and Seychelles). The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had reaffirmed its commitment to support the text at the Regional Congress against the Death Penalty held in April 2018 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, first voted in favour of the resolution. Positive progress has been made in other parts of the world. For example, Malaysia supported the text for the first time in a region where most countries continue to carry out executions. This progress follows the Malaysian government’s announcement in October 2018 of its commitment to abolish the death penalty in the country. The main opposition comes from the Middle East and North Africa region, where 11 countries voted against the resolution, 5 abstained, and only 4 voted in favour (including 2 in the Maghreb, Algeria and Tunisia); as in 2016. Finally, of the 66 countries that abstained or voted against the resolution, more than half (37) are countries that have not carried out any executions for at least 10 years; they should therefore support a text that is consistent with their practice of capital punishment. ECPM encourages these countries to change their vote in December to support the resolution, in line with their national situation.

TO KNOW MORE… On the moratorium Click on the image to see the graphic “What is the United Nations resolution for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty? “