Adapted from the LL.M. thesis Can we end the Death Penalty? The role o f NGOs in the world-wide campaign completed at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law, April 2011.

I Introduction

When one contemplates the universal status of the death penalty today, it is startling to realize the rapidity with which abolition, whether de jure or de facto , is occurring. It was not that long ago when universal abolition would have seemed a pipedream. Amnesty International’s 1979 pertinent world survey, for example, had this to say:

Widespread concern about the use of the death penalty as a matter of principle is felt only in a minority of countries. In most of the world, the death penalty is not a public issue and there is little to suggest that many societies regard putting someone to death after judicial process as abhorrent.1