Until the late 1970s, only 16 countries had abolished the capital punishment for all crimes. Today, abolitionist nations are the overwhelming majority. More than two-thirds of nations, over 150 of the 193 members of the United Nations, have now rejected the death penalty or do not carry out executions.
On Dec. 18, 2007, the approval of a resolution for a moratorium on executions by the United Nations General Assembly was hailed as a milestone in the struggle to abolish the death penalty worldwide. It is true that the United Nations may not impose the abolition of the death penalty, but the moral and political value of the resolution is undeniable.
Ten years of campaigning by the World Coalition against the Death Penalty have brought fruit: the number of countries that have abolished capital punishment in law or practice has gone up to 140. But some countries have resumed executions this year.