A Global Moratorium on the Death Penalty

Bernard Kouchner and Carl Bildt in NPQ:

The good news is that there is a consistent trend toward abolition of the death penalty. Progress has been dramatic in last few decades, and today more than two-thirds of all states have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

Since the Third World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which took place in Paris in February, 2007, Albania, Cook Island, Rwanda, Uzbekistan and Argentina have abolished capital punishment. The use of the death penalty is also becoming increasingly restrained in retentionist countries. This global trend is supported by the various international tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, which, although dealing with the most heinous crimes, have no power to impose the death penalty.

There is, however, no room for complacency. The EU as well as the Council of Europe, have intensified their efforts against the death penalty in international fora such as the United Nations, where last year the General Assembly, in a historic vote, with cross-regional support, adopted a resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

This year the General Assembly will follow up on that initiative, through the recommendations of the secretary-general.