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Italy urges UN Member States to support global moratorium on death penalty

Italy urges UN Member States to support global moratorium on death penalty

The campaign for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty has “reached a decisive moment,” Italy’s Prime Minister told the General Assembly tonight, as he called on United Nations Member States to adopt a draft resolution on the issue.

Romano Prodi said Italy had worked extremely hard to garner support for the resolution – which it expects to soon deposit, along with other countries, before the Assembly – and for the wider principle of opposing capital punishment.

The proposed resolution calls for a universal moratorium on executions with a view to their eventual complete abolition.

“A United Nations resolution against the death penalty will prove that human beings today are better than they were yesterday also in moral terms,” Mr. Prodi told the annual high-level debate at the UN. Humankind is capable of “making progress not only in science but also in the field of ethics.”

The Italian Prime Minister quoted remarks by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier this year noting the “growing trend in international law and national practice toward a phasing out of the death penalty.”

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr. Prodi also discussed climate change, the situation in global “hotspots” such as Darfur and Lebanon, and the need for collaborative action to tackle the challenges posed by climate change.

“In Europe we have already made various strategic decisions,” he said, referring to proposed cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. “But it is obvious that any post-Kyoto agreement can only be achieved within the United Nations. Because when we speak about global warming we are speaking about the pre-eminent global problem of our day.”

The Kyoto agreement, the current global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is due to expire in 2012 and a major international summit scheduled for Bali, Indonesia, in December is expected to focus on devising a successor agreement.

Turning to UN reform, Mr. Prodi said the world body must be underpinned by the principles of democracy and the representation of every Member State.

“This is why we are opposed to any hypothesis of Security Council reform that would establish new permanent members. The growing contribution of a growing number of countries to the Organization should not be wasted by introduced elitist and selective reforms.”

Any negotiations on reforming the Council cannot start based on imposing pre-defined models, he said, stressing the need for “non-divisive solutions that would foster the widest possible consensus.”