World Coalition General Assembly: all eyes on the UN


on 29 June 2007

The General Assembly of the World Coalition took place in Brussels on June 22nd. Particular focus was placed on the World Day on 10 October and the draft resolution at the UN General Assembly for a world moratorium on the death penalty.

They came from all four corners of the world: Porto Rico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Italy and so on. Reunited in the European capital, the representatives of the member organisations of the World Coalition found themselves at the heart of abolitionist events being fuelled by the Old Continent’s institutions.
The European Union has just announced its decision to defend a resolution calling for the institution of a universal moratorium on the death penalty at the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly this autumn.
Aware of the need for international action with respect to this project, the World Coalition decided to make it the main theme of the World Day Against the Death Penalty to be held on 10 October.

“Strong political leadership and a well-crafted strategy”
Martin MacPherson, Director of the International Law and Organisations Programme at Amnesty International, analysed the conditions needed for the United Nations resolution to succeed. He stressed that the European Union must present its project with other UN Member States so as to make it an international initiative rather than just a European one.
“A death penalty free world is increasingly becoming a real possibility but to achieve that goal there must be strong political leadership and a well-crafted strategy to create global support”, he said.
Karen Hooper presented the conclusions of the report she is finalising for the World Coalition on another UN instrument which could drive down use of the death penalty across the world: the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. The World Coalition has made increasing ratification of this text, which definitively abolishes capital punishment, one of its objectives.

Meeting the families of the Bulgarian medics
In addition to presenting the World Coalition’s activities and its new website, and electing members of the Steering Committee, the General Assembly was also an opportunity for members to meet the families of the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor sentenced to death in Libya, who were invited to Brussels by Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) and the National Federation of Belgian Nurses.
“It is important for us, working as we do in the death penalty domain, to see the faces of the people who are affected first”, commented Piers Bannister, Coordinator of the Amnesty International Death Penalty office.
Finally, several member organisations presented a summary of their activities to the General Assembly.
• The Porto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty called for the formation of a Caribbean coalition;
• Franco Ferretti, Vice-Mayor of Reggio Emilia in Italy, told of his visit to death row in Texas last October;
• Penal Reform International gave details about its programme to fight against capital punishment;
• the Community of Sant’Egidio presented the results of the “Africa for Life” day on 18 June;
• Codho described its lobbying activities with Congolese decision-makers;
• the Conférence internationale des barreaux (International Organisation of French-speaking Bar Associations) recalled its programme of cooperation with abolitionists in French-speaking Africa;
• Lutte pour la Justice, ECPM and Amnesty International also presented their abolitionist activities.[/en]

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