Towards Global Abolition of the Death Penalty: Progress and Prospects

author: Roger Hood, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford
produced by: University of Maribor
published: Dec. 8, 2011,   recorded: October 2011,   views: 4036

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This lecture will provide an up-to-date survey and analysis of the extent to which and reasons why more and more countries have in recent years embraced the goal of universal abolition of capital punishment, first laid down by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 1971. It will reveal that over the last 20 years or so a ‘new dynamic’ has been at work: one which has sought to move the debate about capital punishment beyond the view that each nation has the sovereign right to retain the death penalty as a repressive tool of its criminal justice system on the grounds of its purported utility or cultural expectations of its citizens, and instead to ban its use on the grounds that the punishment of death inevitably, and however administered, violates universally accepted human rights: namely, the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In conclusion it will discuss the prospects of achieving universal abolition within the foreseeable future.

We will try to answer the following questions:

What has produced the enormous increase in the number of countries that have abolished the death penalty in the last 20 years?

Is abolition of the death penalty required under international human rights law?

How long might it take for all nations to abolish capital punishment?

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Reviews and comments:

Comment1 Scarly, November 2, 2021 at 2:34 p.m.:

The issue of the use of the death penalty has been relevant to one degree or another throughout the history of civilization. As history shows, such a punishment is more necessary than not. The state, having this type of punishment in its arsenal, can use it extremely rarely, replacing it with life imprisonment; but there are times when any humanist and almost any opponent of execution will say that this person is not worthy to live. And once again I emphasize that it is not so much a matter of punishment (punishment cannot eliminate crime, they can only restrain it to a certain extent), but rather in eliminating the sources of evil, in correcting that terrible situation. It is said in great detail about this I was not reading this article alone, perhaps together with other people, and came to my publication about the death penalty. This is a question that people must answer.

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