UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Can we end the death penalty? The role of NGOs in the world-wide campaign Allen, William Graham


The death penalty that as recently as the end of the Second World War was prevalent and largely uncontested is now at a point where universal abolition appears to be achievable. The causes of the accelerating rate of abolition are examined, and the author critically assesses these causes to see if they would be sufficient to propel the abolitionist cause towards ultimate success. For this purpose, three case studies are presented diagnosing the capital punishment situation in three very different jurisdictions, the Philippines, Pakistan and the U.S.A. Interviews were conducted with knowledgeable persons and there was an extensive literature review. The author's findings are then related to the ongoing involvement of NGOs and, by studying previous successes such as the campaigns against slavery and torture, the question of how NGOs can be more effective in future is considered. This involves analysis of the international legal personality of NGOs and the manner in which norms of customary international law develop. From all of this research and analysis, the author concludes with a proposal to launch a new Campaign for the Universal Abolition of the Death Penalty on July 11, 2011. This would be a 30-year campaign, with measurable milestones at 5-year intervals, and comprehensive strategies to embrace the diverse situations involved.

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