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Voices Online Edition
Vol. XXIII, No. 1
Eastertide 2008

Statements of the Holy See Delegation-
On Draft resolution A/C.3/62/L.29 entitled
"Moratorium on the use of the death penalty"

62nd session of the UN General Assembly
Before the Third Committee, on item 70 (b):
Promotion and protection of human rights

New York, November 15, 2007

Statement at the approval of the Resolution

Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See thanks the many delegations who have worked so assiduously to bring this draft resolution, Moratorium on the use of the death penalty, to the floor of the Third Committee, under the agenda item 70 (b) entitled promotion and protection of human rights. My delegation believes that despite its complexity, this issue rightly belongs here for our consideration. Indeed, the right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights. While we understand and respect other deeply held positions on this matter, based on arguments such as national sovereignty, legitimate defense and respect for national or regional independence, we welcome this draft resolution as another indication of a growing public opposition to the death penalty.

In our view, death penalty should occur only when its use is necessary to protect society against an aggressor. We believe that today’s society has many other ways of protecting its citizens, thus the need to resort to such an ultimate penalty has become not only rare, but practically non-existent. It totally excludes all possibilities of recourse and of restoration in the event of a miscarriage of justice. Moreover, all too often it is the poor and members of religious, ethnic and racial minorities who bear the results of this cruel and unnecessary punishment.

This draft resolution asks states to exercise true courage in saying “no” to killing of any kind, and to use bloodless methods of deterrence and punishment, as they better correspond with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity with the dignity and worth of every human person.

Mr. Chairman,

The right to life and respect for human dignity remains an inalienable right of every person and a founding principle of this organization. It is therefore the duty of states to promote and protect this right from conception until natural death. To that end, we must work consistently to reverse the culture of death embraced by some social and legal structures which justify certain forms of destruction of life as a legal necessity or a medical service.

Therefore, in welcoming the adoption of this draft resolution, the Holy See once again calls on all states to take a consistent view on the right to life, in a way that their support for this important draft resolution would equally mean their support for the protection of the life of the unborn.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Statement at the debate on the amendments

Mr. Chairman,

In light of these amendments, the Holy See reaffirms our call to all states to take a consistent view on the right to life. These discussions demonstrate some of the problems which occur when that consistent approach to protecting the right to life at all stages is absent.

Through its unequal application, the interpretation of the “parameters” of the right to life, at life’s various stages, reduces this fundamental right to a mere tool for political disagreements at the very expense of life itself.

My delegation sees protecting the right to life, in all life’s stages, as a duty of responsible governance and therefore calls on all states in these considerations, to adopt that consistent view. By taking this approach, we believe that we would be better able to focus our efforts on improving our collective and individual efforts to protect all human life rather than debating whose life truly has dignity and worth.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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