Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Italy in the Security Council: No to Death Penalty

On January 1 2007, Italy joined the Security Council of the UN as a non-permanent member.

Its first proposal is very symbolic: Death penalty should be abolished around the world. Coming few days after the execution of Saddam Hussein, the proposal has a huge political impact.

American and Europe, though close on many aspects, do not share the same values when it comes to the desirability of the capital punishment.

Italy is one of the first country in the world where death penalty has been abolished. More importantly, Cesare Beccaria, a philosopher born in Milan in the 18th century, was one of the most outspoken advocate against the death penalty. His famous contribution to that debate, On Crimes and Punishments, is still worth reading for all those who are interested in the problem


Una Ann Hardester said...

You are right about the values difference between the United States and Europe (well, in this case specifically Italy) in regards to capital punishment. Support for the death penalty is consistently high in the United States and generally transcends political affiliation.

American justice is retributive, harsh, and, in the cases of thousands since the country's founding, final.

I remember watching the BBC with a conservative American classmate some weeks ago. A segment about the ICTR came on. A Catholic priest who was responsible for the deaths of the Tutsis in his congregation recieved thirty years in prison.

"Thirty years!" exclaimed my classmate. "Well, I guess that's European justice for you."

Setting aside the fact that the ICTR is an international tribunal seated in Arusha, Tanzania (not The Hague), my classmate was making a point.

Americans see Europe as weak on not only terrorism, but other crimes, too. When Americans learn that aboliton of the death penalty is a precondition for EU membership, they often react with disgust and bewilderment. They figure Europe has it all wrong, if it won't even approve of putting to death individuals convicted of genocide.

I, however, think Europe is right. The death penalty is immoral, inhumane, and barbaric. It's abolition under all circumstances is a hallmark of civilization.

As for Italy's recent UNSC proposal-- I see it as Cesare Beccaria v. Hammorabi.

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

You may be interested in my blog about The Third World Congress Against The
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