- The right to life: a fundamental right with exceptions
- Limitations of the right to life's exceptions
The right to life has been interpreted as both permitting exceptions and imposing obligations with regard to the death penalty. Discuss.
Through centuries, religions and philosophies have strongly condemned the act of killing human life. The extend of states violence during the Second World War and the repercussions for people, pushed the United Nations to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Its aim was to promote fundamental and inalienable rights inherent in every human being.
Among them, the UDHR recognizes in its article 3 the right to life for everyone as a fundamental right and in its article 5 the Declaration says, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also refers to the right to life: “Every human being has the right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life.”
Individual's life is protected from an arbitrary deprivation from states. However, this right is not inviolable. In reality, states may deprive individuals of life in some situations and human rights law does not raise any objection. Thus, the concept of right to life knows several exceptions and is central to issues like death penalty, euthanasia, abortion and war crimes.
The aim of this article is to consider the right to life’s recognition around the world but also its admitted exceptions as the controversial death penalty. The first part of this paper will study the fundamental but not inviolable character of the right to life.
[...] Today, new members of the European Union are obligated by the Council of Europe to undertake and ratify this protocol. This has led to abolition in countries of Eastern Europe such as Ukraine, which had previously one of the higher numbers of executions in the world. In June 1999, Russia has also signed an act commuting the death sentence for all prisoners on the death row to a life imprisonment. Each year since the end of the 1990s, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights passed resolutions asking countries applying the capital punishment to freeze executions. [...]
[...] World Coalition Against the Death Penalty also concludes: “After two years of campaigning, hundreds of letters and about ten missions on the ground, Latvia abolished the death penalty for all crimes on January 2012 and ratified Protocol 13 to the ECHR.” BIBLIOGRAPHY A - Books/Articles/Report Amnesty International, When State Kills The death penalty v human rights (Amnesty International Publications 1989). De Schutter O., International Human Rights Law: Cases, Materials, Commentary (Cambridge 2010). Hood Roger, The Death Penalty: A World-wide Perspective (Clarendon Press, 3rd ed, 2002) 230. [...]
[...] However, human rights law stays reserved on other debatable subjects relating to the right to life, essentially euthanasia and abortion. In these cases, courts brought some answers with for example Pretty v United Kingdom concerning the non-recognition of a right to die or Vo v France for the right to life of unborn child. Regarding the death penalty, many governments have recognized that it cannot be reconciled with respect of human rights. Today countries are abolitionist in law or practice because they do not sentence offenders to death. Others, which still apply this sanction, offered the justification of the death penalty’s necessity for the good of society. [...]
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