Analysing the vote on Resolution 36/17

The appointment of the first Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council marked an important milestone in the LGBTI struggle. However, the distance yet to be travelled was brought home in a stark fashion in the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in the debate around the death penalty.


Understanding Resolution 36/17 of 2017 on ‘The question of the death penalty’

The Amendment Strategy

Analysing the vote on Resolution 36/17

The Human Rights Council has 47 members who are elected to the Council from all members of the United Nations. [19] The members are elected based upon equitable geographical distribution. [20] Resolution 36/17 passed with a vote of 27 countries voting for the resolution, 13 against and seven abstentions. [21]

The resolution was introduced by two countries which recently abolished the death penalty, namely Benin [22] and Mongolia [23]. Both countries made the point that the death penalty is discriminatory in its application vis a vis poor persons and racial minorities. Egypt and Saudi Arabia spearheaded the opposition to the resolution through the proposal of amendments stressing the ‘sovereign right of states’ as well as the need for moratoriums on death penalty to be decided by local and national debates. By contrast, the UK highlighted the fact that responding to violence by executions risked the violence spreading further. Brazil noted the non-discrimination injunction in international law and how the death penalty violated this tenet. Around 25 countries took the floor to put forward their positions on the death penalty before the vote took place. [24]

Understanding the ‘Yes vote’

Understanding the ‘No vote’

The USA’s Vote

Japan’s vote  

India’s vote  

Conclusion: Towards an intersectional approach?  

Download full report here.

[19] The current members of the Human Rights Council are Albania, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Congo, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Paraguay, Portugal, Qatar, Belgium, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Georgia Germany, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Panama, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, BrazilChina, Croatia, Cuba, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq, Japan, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, United Kingdom and United States of America
[20] The distribution of members is based upon the following regions: Group of African States (13); Group of Asia-Pacific States (13); Group of Eastern European States (6); Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (8); Group of Western European and other States (7)
[21] The countries which voted yes were Albania, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal, Rwanda, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, United Kingdom, Venezuela.
The countries which voted no were Bangladesh, Burundi, Botswana, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the USA.
The countries which abstained were Cuba, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, Republic of Korea and Tunisia.