Understanding the ‘Yes vote’

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

Understanding the ‘Yes vote’

The support for the resolution came from Latin and Central America and Europe. This unanimous support from the region (excluding Cuba which abstained and Russia which voted against) was buttressed by both African and Asian countries who joined in support. Among the African Group, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Rwanda and South Africa also joined the yes vote (with Kenya, Tunisia and Nigeria abstaining). Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia were also supportive (with Korea and Philippines abstaining). All countries which voted for the resolution have either abolished the death penalty or have been de facto abolitionist. The abolitionist landscape is a changing one, with most of the shifts (from retentionist to abolitionist) happening in the last twenty years. For example, Mongolia reformed its penal law in 2017 to abolish the death penalty and Congo has been de facto abolitionist since 1982.[25] In contrast to the voting on SOGI issues at the Human Rights Council, the African Group did not have a unified position on the death penalty. This lack of a unified position resulted in six African countries supporting the resolution with three voting against.

Understanding the ‘No vote’

The USA’s Vote

Japan’s vote  

India’s vote  

Conclusion: Towards an intersectional approach?  

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[25]  The other African and Asian countries with voted for Resolution 36/17 and are either de jure or de facto abolitionist are: Congo (1982), Cote D’Ivoire (2000), Ghana (1993), Kyrgyzstan (2007), Mongolia (2017), Rwanda (1994), South Africa (1995), Togo (1978). The only exception to this story of steady progress is the case of the Philippines. Philippines was the first country in the Asia Pacific region to abolish the death penalty in 1983 but in 2017 a Bill has been passed by the House of Representatives which reinstates the death penalty for drug related offences. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/world/asia/philippines-death-penalty.html