United Nations: The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution appealing nations to impose a moratorium on the use of death penalty, the third such step by the world body against capital punishment since 2007.
The resolution was adopted by 109 votes in favour, 41 against with 35 abstentions at the UN General Assembly's plenary session in New York.
More UN Member States supported the resolution this time than the previous vote in 2008 and the number of votes against it have noticeably decreased, confirming a worldwide trend towards putting an end to capital punishment.
Under the resolution, the countries that still maintain the death penalty are being called upon to progressively restrict its use, to reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed, and to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing it.
Countries which have abolished the death penalty have been urged not to reintroduce it.
Following the resolution, Amnesty International urged all countries that retain the death penalty to establish an immediate moratorium on executions as the first step towards abolishing the death penalty.
"The UN General Assembly today sent once again a clear message that the premeditated killing by the state must end," said Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International's representative at the UN in New York.
"The minority of countries that continue to use the death penalty should immediately establish a moratorium on executions as the first step towards ending this ultimate denial of human rights," Diaz said.
When the UN was founded in 1945 only eight states had abolished the death penalty for all crimes.
Today, 136 out of the 192 UN member states have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.
Bhutan, Kiribati, Maldives, Mongolia and Togo changed their vote from 2008 and now support the moratorium.
In a further sign of progress, Comoros, Nigeria, Solomon Islands and Thailand moved from opposition to the moratorium in 2008 to abstention today.
"These positive changes are an encouraging development towards abolishing the death penalty everywhere. We now hope to see national legislation introduced to remove the death penalty in these countries as soon as possible," added Jose Luis Diaz.
First Published: Wednesday, December 22, 2010, 17:13