Death Penalty as Democratization: Is the Council of Europe Hanging Itself?

Rick Fawn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In August 1996 the Council of Europe adopted Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection o f Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Protocol made a moratorium on executions an ‘essential precondition for accession’ for countries seeking membership of the Council, and complete repeal o f the death sentence was required to follow within three years. The Council of Europe stated clearly at the time, and its resolutions and officials have since reiterated, that applicant countries cannot be deemed ‘democratic’ if they retain the death penalty. Council of Europe President Daniel Tarschys said on 20 January 1990 that abolition of the death penalty is ‘indeed the litmus test for belonging to a civilized European family of states’ and called it one of the ‘top priorities’ of the organization. Indeed, the Council of Europe ties a state’s abolition of the death penalty to its democratic credentials and its officials have commented that it has no place in democratic society.1 In Resolution 1187 (1999) of 26. May 1999 the Parliamentary Assembly o f the Council of Europe (PACE) reaffirmed earlier resolutions that capital punishment ‘has no place in civilised, democratic societies governed by the rule of law

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International Library of Essays on Capital Punishment, Volume 2
Subtitle of host publicationAbolition and Alternatives to Capital Punishment
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9781351887519
ISBN (Print)9781138379916
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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