The Swiss Foreign Ministry (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs//FDFA), together with Death Penalty Worldwide at Cornell Law School, launched this year a study of the factors leading states to abolish capital punishment in law. “Pathways to Abolition of the Death Penalty” examines the historical and political processes underlying abolition, including the roles played by key actors and stakeholders in the countries concerned. The publication covers 14 different jurisdictions*, spread across a range of geographical world regions and time periods, from the world’s first full legal abolition in Venezuela in 1863 to most recent abolition success stories (Fiji, Suriname, Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Benin and Maryland).
While there is no universal blueprint and every country comes to abolition in its own way and on its own timeline, the study suggests that, especially in recent years, pathways to abolition rely on a combination of factors, including (1) harnessing the momentum of the global trend towards abolition, with now over two thirds of the world’s countries having given up on using the death penalty (2) engaging political decision-makers and parliamentary allies in moving ahead towards abolition (3) restricting or suspending the death penalty, where it is still applied; (4) enhancing advocacy and explaining to the public at large the unbearable risks and failures of capital punishment.
* Benin, Burundi, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Fiji, Germany, Latvia, Madagascar, Nepal, Suriname, Venezuela - and the US State of Maryland (USA)