On 18 December, by a recorded vote of 117 in favour to 37 against, with 34 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the biannual resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
This is the fifth such resolution since 2007. The number of States in favour has steadily increased, providing confirmation of the evolving law and practice with respect to capital punishment.
The 2007 resolution was adopted by 104 in favour to 54 against, with 29 abstentions. The following year, a similar resolution was adopted by 106 in favour to 46 against, with 34 abstentions. It was decided that the issue would return to the Assembly’s agenda every second year. The third moratorium resolution was adopted by the General Assembly in 2010 by 109 States in favour with 41 against and 35 abstentions. In the fourth moratorium resolution, adopted in 2012, votes in favour totalled 111 with 41 against and 34 abstentions.
The number of States voting against the resolution has, in the space of seven years, declined by 17. That is approximately 2.5 per year. But note as well that the number of States joining the majority on this resolution is accelerating. For the past two years, 3 States per year have changed their position to support for the resolution.
This trend in the political positions of States is also reflected in their conduct. Ten years ago, 62 States were deemed retentionist, defined as a State that has conducted an execution within the past decade. Today, that number is about 37. That is a decline of about 2.5 States every year.
Divide 37 by 2.5 and you get 14.8. The death penalty can be expected to disappear by 2029, if not sooner.