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World Day Against the Death Penalty

noose_200px10 October 2012 -- The first World Day Against the Death Penalty took place in 2003. This event was launched by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, which gathers international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), bar associations, unions and local governments from all over the world. Established by organisations who participated in the first international Congress against the death penalty (Strasbourg, 2001), the Coalition aims to encourage the establishment of national coalitions, the organisation of common initiatives and the coordination of international lobbying efforts to sensitise states that still maintain the death penalty.

This year's World Day focuses on the progress made in the past 10 years and on challenges ahead. The last decade has seen a large increase in the number of countries that have officially abolished the death penalty or eliminated the use of the death penalty in practice:
•    141 countries are abolitionist in law or in practice;
•    97 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes;
•    36 countries have abolished the death penalty in practice;
•    8 countries have abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes.

According to Amnesty International, 21 countries recorded executions in 2011, compared to 31 countries 10 years ago. Even the USA, one of the worst offenders in the use of the death penalty, has shown progress as individual states have abolished or limited the death penalty. Many other countries have also abolished the death penalty in the past decade, including: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Bhutan, Burundi, Cook Islands, Gabon, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Togo, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

However, further work needs to be done to build on the progress made, according to the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty:

•    Promote national legislation abolishing the death penalty.
•    Increase ratifications of the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. 
•    Support international standards calling for the abolition or restricted use of the death penalty.
•    Support adoption of the 2012 UN General Assembly Resolution on a moratorium: in December 2012, the UN General Assembly will vote on a fourth resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Source: World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Selected learning materials

Study Guide on the Right to Life
This guide provides a brief introduction into safeguards to protect the human rights to life, including international standards against the death penalty and extra-judicial killings.

Death Penalty Curricula for High School
This curriculum addresses history of the death penalty, arguments for and against, court cases on the death penalty and additional resources. The site includes two sample units plans for teachers. Each of the units involves an extensive amount of group work, simulations, persuasive and individual essay writing, and class participation.

Educational Guide: World Day 2009
This manual offers several activities related to World Day Against the Death Penalty. It is aimed particularly at teachers of students aged 14 to 18.

International standards on the death penalty
This document gives extracts of international and regional instruments (treaties, declarations) relevant to the abolition or restriction of the death penalty, arranged by subject. Among other things, the instruments set forth safeguards and restrictions on the death penalty. The appendix of this document includes the texts of the relevant sections of the instruments.

International treaties to abolish the death penalty:

- Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty (1989)

- Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights (1983)

- Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights (2002)

- Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty (1990)

Useful Links

World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Council of Europe Theme File on Death Penalty

Amnesty International Website Against the Death Penalty

Amnesty International-USA's Program to Abolish the Death Penalty 

Death Penalty Information Center (USA)

European Day against the death penalty (Council of Europe)


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Human Rights Advocacy

Related resource

International Death Penalty Abolition Day (1 March)

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