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Towards Global Abolition of the Death Penalty: Progress and Prospects

Towards Global Abolition of the Death Penalty: Progress and Prospects

This video was recorded at Out of the Box Seminar. 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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