The Secretary General — Message on World Day Against The Death Penalty 10 October 2015

Seven decades ago, only 14 countries had abolished the death penalty. Today, 82 per cent have either introduced moratoria by law or in practice, or have abolished the death penalty.

This year’s observance of the World Day against the Death Penalty draws attention to this progress and focuses on the death penalty and drug crimes. 

International law limits the application of the death penalty to the “most serious crimes”. This means that it should only – if at all – be applied to the crime of intentional killing.

The United Nations human rights bodies have repeatedly stressed that the use of the death penalty for drug-related crimes does not meet this threshold.

The International Narcotics Control Board and other drug control bodies have encouraged States that impose the death penalty to abolish it for drug crimes.

The death penalty does not deter drug crimes, nor does it protect people from drug abuse.

Curbing drug crimes is far more a matter of reforming justice systems and investing in prevention through the public health system, including access to treatment.

I urge all States and individuals to join the United Nations as we continue to advocate for an end to the imposition of the death penalty.