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Danish resolution against torture adopted by consensus at the UN General Assembly

©UN Photo/Tobin Jones

On November 9th 2017 Denmark, once again, succeeded in adopting a resolution on elimination of torture by consensus among the UN's 193 member states. The resolution is another progressive step for the global struggle against torture and has had a particular focus on preventing torture during arrests and custody.

With the adoption of the resolution, Denmark once again marked itself as a universal advocate for human rights and anti-torture in the UN. At the same time, the result is a clear expression of the global political backing, which continues to exist behind the efforts against torture.

Denmark's active efforts to combat torture are also part of Denmark's candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council for the period 2019-2021. Read more about the candidacy here.

Denmark has been internationally recognized for its leading role in the field of combating torture, and has for more than 20 years chaired the UN resolution on combating torture and other cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment or punishment. This applies both in the UN General Assembly, where Denmark proposes a biennial omnibus resolution and in the UN Human Rights Council, where a thematic resolution is presented on a biennial basis. 

The omnibus resolution is important since not all of the world’s countries have ratified the UN Torture Convention, and even fewer countries have acceded to the Optional Protocol to the UN Torture Convention.

The Danish UN mission in New York conducted the negotiation process, which was relatively calm and constructive. For the first time in the history of the resolution, however, parts of the text were called for a vote. It happened at the request of Sudan, which has opposed referrals to the International Criminal Court (ICC) this year in a number of UN resolutions. However, an overwhelming majority voted in favour of maintaining the original text as proposed by Denmark, thus maintaining a consensus on the resolution.

Each time Denmark presents the resolution, it is done with the intent to strengthen it from last year’s version. This year's resolution has focused on a number of initiatives, which draws on additions to the latest thematic resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Firstly, in this year's resolution, Denmark added elements on the prevention of torture during arrests and extra custodial situations. It also focused on ensuring that individuals are informed of their rights in connection with arrests and to ensure the training of all relevant personnel in the executive branch.

Secondly, a reference to the importance of maintaining a well-functioning judicial system, including by combating corruption was added.

Thirdly, ongoing cooperation between experts and other stakeholders is recognized in order to develop a universal set of minimum standards to help combat forced confessions and violence in connection with interrogations. This originates, inter alia, from the UN Special Rapporteur for Torture and Other Cruel, Degrading or Inhuman Treatment or Punishment whom dealt with the subject in the 2016 report (read the report here).

Finally, a reference to the recently launched "Alliance for Torture-Free Trade" was added. Read more about this initiative here.

Furthermore, Denmark used this opportunity to acknowledge and reiterate the continued support for "Convention against Torture Initiative". The CTI is a cross-regional initiative launched by Denmark along with Chile, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco in 2014, with a general goal of achieving universal ratification of the UN Torture Convention by 2024. Read more about the initiative here.

The entire resolution will be made available here.

Denmark expects to continue the fight against torture by presenting a thematically focused resolution on combating torture at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2018.

For more information contact:
Senior Advisor Julie Garfieldt Kofoed, The Danish UN Mission in New York:, tel. +12127054917
- Head of Section Teis Tonsgaard Andersen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office for Civil and Human Rights:, tel. 6197 9178