10th October: World Day Against the Death Penalty

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty is an international alliance of NGOs, bar associations, local governments and trade unions that aims to strengthen the international dimension of the fight against the death penalty.

Founded in May 2002, the World Coalition is an association of more than 180 member organizations advocating for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.

The World Coalition facilitates lobbying after international organizations and states and organizes events of international concern. It contributes to commemorating the World Day Against the Death Penalty every 10th of October. The World Coalition also encourages the creation of national or regional coalitions against the death penalty to strengthen initiatives taken in this regard.

The World Coalition is funded by its members’ contributions, the European Union, and some European governments, such as those of Belgium and Switzerland. Other institutional funders also provide financial resources for some specific projects.

On 22 June 2001, participants to the first World Congress Against the Death Penalty, an event held by French non-government organization (NGO) Ensemble contre la peine de mort, adopted the Strasbourg Declaration in the hemicycle of the Council of Europe. In paragraph 9, the signatories committed to “creat[ing] 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, organizations convened in Rome on 13 May 2002 to officially create the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. A first Steering Committee composed of 11 members, in charge of defining the World Coalition’s political strategy, was elected then renewed at each General Assembly.

Since 2008, the World Coalition has been registered as an association under French law.

The World Coalition has made 10th of October the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The first occurrence of this annual event was celebrated in 2003. In 2007, the Committee of Ministries of the Council of Europe declared that a European Day Against the Death Penalty also be held every 10th of October, coinciding with the World Day.