OHCHR Global Panel: “Moving away from the death penalty –
Lessons from national experiences”

Participants at OHCHR global panel on death penalty listening to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moonMore than two thirds of United Nations member countries have abolished or do not practice the death penalty. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has stated opposition to the death penalty in all cases citing “the fundamental nature of the right to life; the unacceptable risk of executing innocent people by mistake; the absence of proof that the death penalty serves as a deterrent; and…the inappropriately vengeful character of the sentence.”

Although resolutions calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty continue to be hard-fought in the General Assembly, the number of countries supporting the resolutions has progressively increased. In 2007, a resolution calling on countries that allow capital punishment to “progressively restrict the use of the death penalty and reduce the number of offences for which it may be imposed” was adopted with 104 votes in favour, 54 against and 29 abstentions. In 2010, when a similar resolution was last considered, it was adopted with 109 votes in favour, 41 against and 35 abstentions. The issue will again be discussed by the General Assembly during its 67th session this year.

The panel discussion is organized by the UN Human Rights Office in preparation for the forthcoming debate. 

United Nations Headquarters, New York
North Lawn Building - Conference Room 2
3 July 2012


 Opening remarks by Mr. Ban-Ki Moon, Secretary-General [webcast]

First Session - Experiences of Member States on the abolition of the death penalty [webcast]


  • Mr. Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General


  • Mr. Valentin Bagorikunda, Prosecutor-General of the Republic of Burundi
  • Ms. Blanca Aída Stalling Dávila, Director-General of El Instituto de la Defensa Pública Penal of Guatemala
  • Mr. Federico Mayor, President, International Commission against the Death Penalty

Open discussion

Remarks by Ms. Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights

Second Session: Human rights dimensions of the application of the death penalty in States retaining it [webcast]


  • Professor Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions


  • Mr. Kirk Bloodsworth, victim of wrongful conviction and death sentence, USA
  • Mr. Barry C. Scheck, Co-Director, The Innocence Project, New York
  • Mr. Douglas Mendes, Justice, Belize Court of Appeal and the President of the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights
  • Ms. Maiko Tagusari, Secretary-General, Center for Prisoners' Rights, Japan
  • Mr. Cousin Zilala, Executive Director of Amnesty International, Zimbabwe

Open discussion

Reception, West Delegates’ Lounge, North Lawn Building

For further information please contact OHCHR New York office at 212 963 5931 or newyork@ohchr.org.