Regional congresses: moving forward locally to progress globally
To ensure the best possible preparation for the World Congresses, a regional congress is held prior to the World Congresses to focus attention on a particular region of the globe: in 2012 in Rabat (Morocco), in 2015 in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and in 2018 in Abidjan (Ivory Coast). The 2021 regional congress could not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic: it is now scheduled for July 2023 in Amman (Jordan).
After Morocco (2012), Malaysia (2015) and Abidjan (2018), the ECPM teams and their partners headed to Jordan to organise the fourth regional congress on the death penalty: an opportunity to focus on the Middle East, a region of the world in tension, to explore the specific issues linked to the abolition of capital punishment. At least 200 participants from 15 countries attended: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
While 148 countries worldwide have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, and a decreasing number of retentionist countries carry out executions, the abolition of capital punishment is now a global trend. In fact, fewer and fewer countries still carry out executions. The Middle East is not standing still in this global dynamic, as countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have not carried out any executions in recent years, paving the way for abolition. The event aimed to support the work of civil society, encourage collaboration on the abolition of the death penalty, and relay the voices of those condemned to capital punishment.
World Congresses: an unmissable meeting
ECPM’s World Congresses aim to take stock of progress towards universal abolition and the difficulties encountered along the way. They are a unique opportunity to assemble actors working for abolition at the local, regional and international levels, who are in a position to contribute effectively to the elimination of the death penalty from judicial and legislative arsenals: activists, lawyers representing death row prisoners, political leaders and diplomats, parliamentarians, former death row prisoners and victims’ families.
Over the past twenty years, the World Congresses have become the essential meeting place for abolitionists from all over the world. Every three years, they come together in a different city to advance the cause of universal abolition: in 2004 in Montreal (Canada); in 2007 in Paris (France); in 2010 in Geneva (Switzerland); in 2013 in Madrid (Spain); in 2016 in Oslo (Norway); in 2019 in Brussels (Belgium); and in 2022 in Berlin (Germany).
This major triennial gathering undoubtedly contributes to promoting the sense of being part of a global movement, especially for the most isolated members of civil society, who are most often active in retentionist countries. Many of them testify to the impetus generated by the Congresses to pursue their efforts, drawing on the advice and good practices collected within the abolitionist community, which is structured as an interactive network.
About the last World Congress in Berlin : Meeting again, at last
The 8th World Congress Against the Death Penalty took place in Berlin from November 15 to 18, 2022: over a thousand participants from 90 countries gathered in the German capital for the most important gathering of abolitionists. For four days, politicians, activists and committed citizens debated major issues concerning the death penalty worldwide.
Numerous key witnesses, former death row prisoners and leading figures from civil society have been invited to speak at various venues across the city, including the Radial System, Berlin’s cultural nerve center, which hosted the abolition village, workshops, debates and conferences. A wide range of activities and players linked by a common goal: to strengthen the struggle for the universal abolition of the death penalty.
This year’s new topics include mobilizing the world’s youth, mobilizing the private sector, analyzing contemporary regional issues, and many others to be found in our academic program.
#AbolitionNowTour : Ensuring Continuity
For over twenty years, the World Congresses have given abolitionists the opportunity to join forces and prepare for tomorrow’s combat. At each World Congress, ECPM innovates so that new audiences take ownership of the death penalty issue: in Madrid, in 2013, the role of parliamentarians was highlighted; in Oslo, in 2016, national human rights institutions (NHRIs) were involved for the first time; in Brussels, a new debate with the private sector and the business world was initiated. At the last edition in Berlin, ECPM gave the floor to the younger generation, the pillars of future universal abolition.
ECPM has therefore crossed six retentionist countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to meet young abolitionists. Workshops, tools, exchanges of best practices… the next generation is at hand!