The resolution on the death penalty which was passed by Dáil Éireann on 18 December last requested the Government to support the principles and objectives contained in the resolution of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. That resolution, which was adopted by the Commission during its 53rd session on 3 April 1997, calls on states which use the death penalty, and which are party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to consider ratifying the Second Optional Protocol, which is aimed at abolition of capital punishment. It further urges such states to respect safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty and reiterates the conviction that abolition would contribute both to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights.
The Dáil resolution also requested the Government to assume the responsibility of promoting, at both the Human Rights Commission in Geneva and at the UN General Assembly in New York, the adoption of a resolution which would create a universal moratorium on capital punishment in 1998.
Ireland has used and will continue to avail of each and every opportunity to press for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, both within the United States and Council of Europe frameworks, in concert with our EU partners. At the 53rd session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1997, we laid particular emphasis on our belief that the death penalty, as a human rights issue, is a matter of legitimate concern to the international community, in line with the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993. The resolution which was adopted enjoyed wide geographical support and was the first such resolution passed by the Commission.