U.S. Explanation of Vote: HRC Resolution on the Question of the Death Penalty

Death Penalty – The Question of the Death Penalty
Explanation of Vote Against
Human Rights Council 30 – Geneva
October 1, 2015

The United States is disappointed that it must vote against this resolution.  As in previous years, we had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the position of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully.  In particular, we cannot agree with this resolution’s orientation in favor of a moratorium or abolition.  We reaffirm our longstanding position on the legality of the death penalty, when imposed and carried out in a manner consistent with a state’s international obligations.

We are deeply troubled whenever an individual subject to the death penalty is denied the procedural and substantive protections to which he or she is entitled.  We likewise condemn any instance in which a method of execution or treatment during confinement is applied in such a manner as to amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in violation of a state’s international obligations.  We cannot accept the implication, however, that all methods of execution have such a result.

The United States is committed to complying with its constitution, laws, and international obligations, and we encourage other countries that employ the death penalty to do so as well.  It remains our hope that the upcoming biennial high-level panels to be convened on the death penalty, and the Secretary General’s 2015-2017 supplement to his next report on capital punishment, will address all aspects of the issue, with due consideration to given to all national perspectives.  This point is important given the wide divergence of views regarding its abolition or continued use both within and among nations.