Presentation & History
Mobilizing for Universal Abolition
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, an alliance of more than 160 NGOs, bar associations, local authorities and unions, was created in Rome on 13 May 2002. It was created as a result of the commitment made by the signatories of the Final Declaration of the 1st World Congress Against the Death Penalty organized by the French NGO Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) in Strasbourg in June 2001.
The aim of the World Coalition is to strengthen the international dimension of the fight against the death penalty. Its objective is to obtain the universal abolition of the death penalty. To achieve its goal, the World Coalition advocates for a definitive end to death sentences and executions in those countries where the death penalty is in force. In some countries, it is seeking to obtain a reduction in the use of capital punishment as a first step towards abolition.
The World Coalition is striving to achieve these aims in the following ways:
- by supporting its member organizations, local, national and regional abolitionist forces;
- by coordinating the international advocacy towards worldwide abolition of the death penalty.
Complementing the Action of Members
The World Coalition gives a global dimension to the action taken by its members on the ground. It complements their initiatives, while constantly respecting their independence.
In conformity with the commitment made by its founders, the World Coalition has also made 10 October the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The first occurrence of this annual event took place in 2003. The World Coalition is also a partner of the World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which is held every three years.
The World Coalition promotes international action taken by its members, such as the “Cities Against the Death Penalty” annual operation launched by the Sant’Egidio community.
Organization and Functioning
The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty brings together abolitionist organizations committed to working together in line with its Bylaws. It is registered in France.
The member organizations meet once every other year for the General Assembly to define the World Coalition’s strategy and elect some of its members to a Steering Committee for two years. The Steering Committee’s member organizations take the necessary decisions to implement this strategy. The Steering Committee elects some of its members to the Executive board, including a President and a Treasurer. The Executive Board is tasked with the general management, the financial running, the governance and the legal issues associated with the Secretariat.
The World Coalition’s Secretariat works under the supervision of the Steering Committee to implement the decisions made by the General Assembly, the Steering Committee, the Executive Board and the World Coalition’s Working Groups. The Secretariat manages the World Coalition’s budget and is accountable to the Treasurer, the Executive Board, the Steering Committee and the General Assembly for expenditure. The Secretariat is made up of salaried staff.
The World Coalition is financed by contributions from its members and donors. It is also seeking financing from other institutional sponsors.
The participants to the first World Congress Against the Death Penalty, initiated and organized by the French NGO Together Against the Death Penalty, adopted the Strasbourg Declaration on 22 June 2001 in the hemicycle of the Council of Europe. In paragraph 9, the signatories pledged to “create a world-wide co-ordination of abolitionist associations and campaigners, whose first goal will be to launch a world-wide day for the universal abolition of the death penalty”.
After several preparatory meetings in Paris and Brussels, most of the initiative’s protagonists met in Rome on 13 May 2002 to create officially the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. An 11-member Steering Committee was selected then renewed at each General Assembly every two year.
World Days and Congresses
In 2003, the World Coalition created the first World Day Against the Death Penalty. This initiative was expressed through more than 180 local initiatives across the world. Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the European Union officially supported the World Day. Since then, October 10 has continued to attract new initiatives. Since 2005, when more than 260 events took place, the World Day Against the Death Penalty has highlighted a particular theme each year. In 2007, the Council of Europe and the European Union officially recognized the World Day as European Day Against the Death Penalty.
Having previously been involved in the organization of the 2nd World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Montreal in 2004, the World Coalition is now a partner of this major international abolitionist meeting held every three years and organized by Together Against the Death Penalty.