Inefficient, irreversible and inhumane – the death penalty is not justice. It is the opposite of justice.

That is why France has decided to back the campaign for the universal abolition of the death penalty. As the country of human rights, it is part of our identity to campaign for the principles in which we believe. For more than 30 years, one of these principles has been that one cannot kill in the name of justice.

Our diplomats have been ordered to take action accordingly, in cooperation with civil society, to alert, mobilise and convince. This commitment, shared by NGOs, human rights advocates and lawyers, has led to advances over the past few years. The positive signs are unmistakeable: two thirds of the 193 UN member states no longer use the death penalty, compared to only one third 10 years ago. We must continue: every new moratorium is a victory, but a moratorium is always reversible. The objective is universal abolition; it is a cause which is progressing and which I hope will eventually prevail.

Reinvigorating the campaign for universal abolition is not about giving lectures but rather about sharing our experience. The French example shows that it takes courage to abolish the death penalty, but that such courage is then rewarded by support from the public.

The more people get involved, the faster the cause will progress. The 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which brings together in Madrid numerous countries from all continents, carries hope. France is pleased to be one of its partners. The Congress is a place of reflection and involvement for political representatives, parliamentarians, representatives from international organisations and activists. This large gathering is also a reminder that the abolition of the death penalty is a universal cause.

We must pave the way to universal abolition in Madrid.

Laurent Fabius
Foreign Affairs Minister of the French Republic

France sponsors the 5th World Congress Against the Death Penalty.