Geneva 2010: uniting abolitionists at all levels

World Congress

on 28 February 2010

After an opening ceremony marked by the presence of numerous international political leaders, participants to the World Congress met at the Geneva International Conference Centre.
Behind the colourful stands manned by abolitionist organizations from around the world in the entrance hall, the quiet corridors of the conference centre were humming with discussions between activists and announcements for the numerous thematic meetings – the role of lawyers, the use of the internet by abolitionist militants, discrimination in the administration of capital punishment… – and geographic discussions, from Asia to Africa, the Middle East and tthe Caribbean.
The Congress ended on February 26 with a solemn ceremony with speakers including Iranian Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, leading American abolitionist figure Sr Helen Prejean and Switzerland’s Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs Micheline Calmy Rey.
While the days were filled with intense reflection, the evenings were more emotional. On Thursday, the voice of singer Emily Loizeau gave delegates some breathing space between moving testimonies by ordinary citizens whose life tipped over when the death penalty knocked on their door.
Wednesday night’s touching performance of the play based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Last day of a Condemned Man was just one example of the presence of artists at the World Congress, including photographic and cartoons exhibitions as well as an artistic installation representing a grim electric chair.

Watch the opening speech by World Coalition representative Elizabeth Zitrin at the UN’s Palace of Nations:

Full Congress coverage

  • Congress highlights

Geneva 2010: uniting abolitionists at all levels
Abolitionist co-operation at all levels kick-started in Geneva
Universal abolition will happen when four key countries change sides
After the debates, the victims’ emotions
World Congress ends with words of hope

  • The debates in detail

Spot opportunities and focus on education, abolitionists are told
To escape the death penalty: be rich and kill a foreigner
Protecting vulnerable groups from the death penalty
Religion in favour of abolition
Campaigning through forgiving
Crime and populism prevent abolition in the Caribbean
Pushing for abolition in the Middle East and in North Africa
Asia between an abolitionist trend and populist politics
From moratorium to abolition: Africa wants to make the jump
Abolition as seen by police and justice practitioners
Clever use of online tools could boost activism
Detailing EU support for NGOs

  • Meet abolitionists

“We are the future” – Kids Against the Death Penalty
“Young people over 13 will understand”
“We go to the prisoner’s village to question the witnesses”
Uniting activists’ forces is Amina Bouayach’s obsession
“Academics can enable activists with technology”
Live from death row
Picture petition for abolition

  • Artists weigh in

Portraits of the death penalty
The Last Day of a Condemned Man/Autopsy of fear
Press cartoons: illustrating injustice

  • Downloadable reference documents

Final declaration of the World Congress
– in English
– in French
– in Chinese
– in German
– in Spanish
– in Arabic
– in Russian

Opening session speeches:
– Elizabeth Zitrin, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (English)
– Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Managing Director, ECPM (French)
– Pascale Bruderer, president of the Swiss National Council (French/English)
– François Zimeray, French ambassador for human rights (French)
– Victorio Taccetti, Argentine vice-minister for foreign affairs (Spanish)
– Jean Asselborn, Luxemburg’s foreign affairs minister (French)
– Laurette Onkelinx, vice-prime minister of Belgium (French)
– Vincenzo Scotti, Italian state minister for foreign affairs (English)
Arnaud Gaillard, Coordinator of the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty (French)
Abdou Diouf, Secretary general of La Francophonie (French)
– Gry Larsen, Norwegian state secretary for foreign affairs (English)

Solemn ceremony speeches:
– Message from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of state of the Holy See (English)
– Message from Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj (English)
– Summary of Congress debates by Mario Marazziti, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (English)

  • Listen back to the debates

Visit the Congress audio section on ECPM’s website (text introductions in French, MP3 recordings in English and in French)

  • Watch the Congress videos

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