Delegate Name: Abby Klein
In 2022, 883 individuals were executed because of the death penalty across 20 countries, the highest yearly total since 2017 . The magnitude of this figure is unacceptable, prompting measures to be taken to decrease the amount of executions in the future. Nations worldwide are actively taking measures to abolish the death penalty and decrease its use. The UN has increased its condemnation of capital punishments through critical statements of the death penalty with both the Office of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Chief expressing strong opposition. Other UN entities such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (specifically the Second Optional Protocol), Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Secretary-General on the UN Approach to Rule of Law Assistance all advocate for a more humane and ethical approach to this issue.
In 2007, Rwanda made a significant stride towards justice by abolishing the death penalty, a move that came 45 years after gaining independence. Prior to this Rwanda only used the dealth penalty once, against 22 criminals who aided in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. After the termination of the death penalty, cases to do with the genocide go to International Criminal Tribunal or the national courts, where these criminals get punished or jailed, but not executed. Rwanda’s prison system has thrived since, contributing to the lowest crime rates in its history, effectively challenging the perceived necessity of the death penalty within the country. This progress not only underscores the success of alternatives to capital punishment in Rwanda but also serves as a compelling example to the world, demonstrating that the death penalty is not a needed component of a just legal system.
Looking ahead, Rwanda asserts that countries should have autonomy to establish their own laws regarding the death penalty, but the HRC should create recommendations if it would be moral to use the death penalty based on the severity of the crime committed. The severity of crime levels should be based on counsel from the International Classification Of Crime For Statistical Purposes (ICCS). The ICCPR, CRC, and future Guidance from the Secretary-General should determine which levels of crime would be appropriate to inflict the death penalty upon, if the country chooses not to abolish it. Rwanda acknowledges the importance that justice has, to those hurt and affected by criminals, and to individual countries themselves, but Rwanda believes that justice can be achieved without sacrificing morals and justifying killing. One way to accomplish this is to make use of federal prisons for life sentences for heinous crimes. Rwanda sees the value in allowing the death penalty, in order to have justice and peace, but also the reality that these are human beings being killed. The constitution of Rwanda states “A human being is sacred and inviolable” and that “Everyone has the right to life.” These principles of humanity and justice must be held by the HRC when discussing the Death Penalty in the future to ensure a moral and impactful solution for the International community.