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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

18 April 2016, New York – Speaking points by European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica at the Special Session of United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem Side Event on Effective Drugs Policies without the Death Penalty

  • It is a pleasure for me to intervene at this event.
  • As you know, the EU holds a strong and principled position against the death penalty; it considers it a cruel, inhuman and irreversible punishment, with no deterrent effect.
  • Article 2 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights provides that no one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed in any circumstances. The abolition of death penalty is a precondition for accession to the European Union and one of the main objectives of the EU human rights policy.
  • The specific use of the death penalty for drug offences is a very emblematic and cruel aspect of death penalty use. The international human rights law is clear: drug crimes do not constitute most serious crimes for which capital punishment may be prescribed.
  • The EU is using all diplomatic tools to advance the cause against the death penalty worldwide. Many statements were issued and demarches were carried out, based on the minimum standards defined by international law and the EU guidelines.
  • We are intensifying our dialogue with the most fervent retentionist countries. We are constantly stepping up efforts, especially in countries where there is a spike in executions or the reintroduction of capital punishment, sometimes after decades of moratorium.
  • We need to assist countries applying the death penalty for drug related offences to develop and implement balanced and integrated policies consistent with international human rights law.
  • We will continue advocating that the death penalty has no deterrent effect; there is no criminological research proving a link between the incidence of crime and capital punishment.
  • We often hear the argument that the vast majority of the population in many retentionist countries is in favour of the death penalty.
  • However, policy makers have to pave the way, so that the trend of opinion is reversed. This is why we need to continue discussion with parliamentarians, lawyers, prosecutors, academics, and publicly share our experience.
  • In different parts of the world, capital punishment is still imposed and executions are taking place. However, the abolitionist trend is gaining ground, with a slow but steady flow of states joining the fold every day.
  • Today’s event has demonstrated that the death penalty is not a viable path to fight drug related offences and that many countries have chosen alternative ways by eliminating this cruel, inhumane and irreversible punishment.
  • Ref: SP16-001EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Other
  • Date: 18/04/2016

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