For the first time in history, a majority of the world's nations have gone on record calling for a moratorium in the use of legal executions. In a 104 to 54 vote, the United Nation's General Assembly voted to support a non-binding resolution calling capital punishment's deterrence value dubious, and its errors and miscarriages of justice "irreversible" and seeking a global moratorium on its use. According to Maggie Farley's reporting in the LATimes, the US joined with traditional allies China, Syria, and the Sudan to oppose the resolution.
While the US aggressively insists on its right to invade other countries that flout international standards of human rights, we blithely insist on our own sovereign right to kill. Don't look for any of our Presidential candidates to lead the charge here. When it comes to execution, Hillary, Barak, and John Edwards are ostensibly as ready to execute as Romney, Giuliani, or Mike Huckabee (who as Governor of Arkansas can claim 17 hides). Still, the next occupant of the Oval office will find that repairing America's standing in the world is a top priority. It is in that light, that the General Assembly's vote takes on its real importance. By defining abolition as part of a general global consensus on human rights, this week's vote will help put American capital punishment on the endangered species list.