Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 December 2022
This chapter traces the history of the world's anti-death penalty movement, noting how countries moved away from punishments such as breaking on the wheel and burning at the stake and how capital punishment has been abolished or curtailed in various countries and American states. After taking note of early successes of the abolitionist movement, the chapter discusses abolitionist efforts over time, including in the Progressive Era and in the post-World War II period (e.g., in Europe and the Americas). In particular, the chapter discusses American states (i.e., Michigan, Wisconsin and Rhode Island) that abolished capital punishment before the American Civil War, and describes how West Germany outlawed capital punishment in its constitution in 1949. The chapter discusses how international human rights law has evolved in the post-World War II period, with capital punishment coming under increased scrutiny and protocols to international and regional human rights conventions (e.g., the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Protocols 6 & 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights) abolishing or restricting the death penalty's use.
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