UN: Statement on abolition of death penalty

United Nations, General Assembly, 61st Session, 81st Plenary Meeting: The Abolition of the Death Penalty

Statement by H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations

New York, 19 December 2006

Madam President,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, the Federated States of Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Tuvalu, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Venezuela.

The right of everyone to life was universally affirmed in article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in other international instruments, such as in article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and articles 6 and 37 (a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Over the last decade, the Commission of Human Rights has adopted in all consecutive sessions a Resolution on the ‘question of the death penalty’, expressing deep concern at the continuing use of the death penalty around the world and calling upon States that still maintain the death penalty to abolish it completely and, in the meantime, to establish a moratorium on executions.

Madam President, we firmly believe that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. The death penalty provides no added value in terms of deterrence. Any miscarriage or failure of justice is irreversible, when, in a cruel and inhumane way, the punishment deprives one of his or her right to life. The signatories of this statement are pleased to note that the trend towards the worldwide abolition of the death penalty continues and welcome the abolition of capital punishment in three States over the last year, together with positive developments towards its complete abolition in many other countries.

However, despite these developments, there is still cause for great alarm. The signatories of this statement remain deeply concerned about the resort to death penalty all over the world.

Madam President, the signatories of this statement commit themselves to work towards the abolition of the death penalty and, where the death penalty still exists, call for its use to be progressively restricted, insist that it be carried out according to minimum standards (ECOSOC resolution of 1984) and, in the meantime, call for the establishment of a moratorium on executions.

The signatories call upon the General Assembly to be seized of this matter in the future.

Thank you, Madam President.