For a world without the death penalty

March 2017, Manila, Philippines Demonstrators hold up a black sign that says: No to death penalty.
The death penalty infringes on human dignity and human rights. © Shutterstock

Switzerland opposes the death penalty in all parts of the world and under all circumstances. The death penalty is against human rights, and is neither a deterrent nor does it contribute to reconciliation. Switzerland is working for worldwide abolition together with like-minded states and partners from civil society, justice and politics. Its efforts are helping to promote human rights and further peace and security in the world.

Universal abolition of the death penalty is a foreign policy priority for Switzerland. Through political advocacy, international initiatives and local projects, it is supporting the global trend towards abolition and helping to safeguard the progress to date. The FDFA's action plan pursues three objectives:

  • by the end of 2019 more countries will have abolished capital punishment than at present;
  • fewer countries will enforce the death penalty and fewer people will lose their lives as a result of capital punishment;
  • there will be more widespread adherence to the internationally binding minimum standards on the application of the death penalty (e.g. death penalty only for the most serious crimes, not death penalty for minors).

FDFA Action Plan for the Universal Abolition of the Death Penalty 2017–2019 (PDF, 1.7 MB, English)

Lines of action

The FDFA is working at three levels to achieve these objectives:

  1. It is encouraging states to abolish the death penalty or at least take steps towards abolition. At the same time it wants to dissuade states from reintroducing capital punishment. It does this in bilateral meetings and by issuing recommendations when states undergo their Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the UN Human Rights Council. It also supports specific projects to raise awareness of the problem among the general public and decision-makers in individual countries, and to convince them of the importance of abolition.

  2. The FDFA is working to narrow the legal and political scope for capital punishment worldwide. The focus here is a series of resolutions initiated by Switzerland at the UN Human Rights Council. These draw attention to the human rights violations inherent in capital punishment and call on states to protect the rights of those affected.

  3. The FDFA is deepening cooperation with like-minded states, and lends particular support to civil society organisations and movements committed to the abolition of the death penalty.