ECPM is devoting more and more time and energy to the development of advocacy within UN institutions. Although this work is proving to be essential to advance the abolitionist cause across the world, understanding and distinguishing the importance of its many facets can be difficult. Nicolas Perron, ECPM Programme Director, provides a little clarity.

ECPM: Last year, ECPM obtained ECOSOC status at the UN. Can you tell us what that involves?

Nicolas Perron: Obtaining this status is real recognition of all the work ECPM has done within the UN. ECOSOC is the only UN body with a formal structure for participation by NGOs.

It enables the organisation to participate officially in all the UN’s human rights mechanisms, to express its point of view and to influence its work. Concretely, ECPM can now provide its own analysis of the status of the death penalty in a given country, help monitor and implement international agreements, present written and verbal statements during work, and organise events within the UN.

Last month, ECPM was present at the Palace of Nations in Geneva. Why was that?

Firstly, we organised a side event. A side event is an event organised on the fringe of the Human Rights Council which is mainly aimed at diplomats and, potentially, NGOs to deal with a specific theme. On that occasion, we presented the proceedings of the 6th World Congress Against the Death Penalty and announced that the 7th World Congress would be held in Brussels.

We also issued a statement within the framework of the high-level Panel organised within the Human Rights Council. This panel is organised every two years around a different theme. This year, it focused on the death penalty and torture. Thanks to our ECOSOC status, we were able to take the floor in front of State representatives and experts on this issue.

What role does ECPM play in the Universal Periodic Reviews?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a mechanism which is unique to the Human Rights Council. 47 examiner States focus on the human rights situation in one of the 193 Member States of the UN.

Within this framework, ECPM submits information on the death penalty in the country concerned, advocates with the examiner States, takes the floor during the session to adopt the report of the Human Rights Council, and overseas implementation of the recommendations on the death penalty accepted by the State examined.

ECPM is currently working on the UPR’s in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Every two years, the UN General Assembly decides on a universal moratorium against the death penalty. What role does ECPM play on that occasion?

Since 2007, a resolution for a universal moratorium on application of the death penalty has been put to the vote by the UN General Assembly every two years. This is a non-binding text which reaffirms that application of the death penalty damages human dignity and which calls on all the UN’s members to establish a moratorium on executions.

With the support of its local partners, and in collaboration with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, ECPM carries out advocacy work to convince those States which are still reticent to support the resolution. To do this, ECPM meets the authorities and diplomats from the countries concerned, develops advocacy tools and organises side events at UN headquarters in New York.

On 19 December 2016, 117 States voted for the resolution and 40 against (+2 compared to 2014) while 31 abstained (-3) and 5 were absent. Adoption of this resolution corroborates and supports the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty.