A record number of countries have given their support to the campaign to end capital punishment.
On Thursday, a large majority of states from all regions adopted a second United Nations resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
Amnesty International has welcomed the breakthrough for the resolution, which was adopted in the UN General Assembly (Third Committee). The number of co-sponsors has risen to 89, two more than last year.
The increased support for this resolution is yet further evidence of the worldwide trend towards the abolition of the death penalty.
105 countries voted in favour of the draft resolution, 48 voted against and 31 abstained. A range of amendments proposed by a small minority of pro-death penalty countries were overwhelmingly defeated.
“We urge all states that still carry out executions to take immediate steps to implement the resolution and establish a moratorium on executions," says Amnesty International's Yvonne Terlingen,
137 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, as of November 2008. During 2007, at least 1,252 people were executed in 24 countries. At least 3,347 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries.
The decrease in countries carrying out executions is dramatic. In 1989, executions were carried out in 100 states. In 2007, Amnesty International recorded executions in 24 countries.
The draft resolution adopted on Thursday by the Third Committee of the General Assembly has still to be adopted by the General Assembly sitting in plenary in December.