EU Lobbying is Killing the Death Penalty

After seeing the dramatic effects of World War II, Europe rallied in opposition against the death penalty.  In the case of such extreme horror, the lines of justice were blurred.  Capital punishment no longer was a quick solution for separating guilty members of society from good people.  As a result, no execution has taken place on the territory of the Council of Europe’s states since 1997 (with the exception of Belarus).

WASHINGTON - JULY 01:  Activists participate in a vigil against the death penalty in front of the U.S. Supreme Court July 1, 2008 in Washington, DC. The Abolitionist Action Committee and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held the vigil to abolish the death penalty to mark the 1972 and 1976 Supreme Court rulings suspending the death penalty and later allowing executions to resume.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – JULY 01: Activists participate in a vigil against the death penalty in front of the U.S. Supreme Court July 1, 2008 in Washington, DC. The Abolitionist Action Committee and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held the vigil to abolish the death penalty to mark the 1972 and 1976 Supreme Court rulings suspending the death penalty and later allowing executions to resume. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The United States has been slower to action, because capital punishment is a long-contested tradition in many states.  Recently, an increase in lobbying efforts from the European Union have recently influenced the abolition of the death penalty in many American states.

The death penalty is used in 58 countries worldwide and enforces an estimated 5,000 executions each year. A recent Politico article addresses the recent activity of EU lobbyists to abolish the death penalty.  Author James Panichi writes how the strongly committed the lobbyists are in fighting the death penalty, acting through diplomacy to enact change around the globe.  A program known as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) provides grants to NGOs to implement projects to fight torture in developing tortures and abolish the death penalty globally.

While the European Court of Auditors was not able to establish a direct causal link between EU spending and progress in the U.S. campaign, lobbyists are confident that the campaign’s success exists in measures that are difficult to quantify.  The involvement of European lobbyists in highly sensitive political affairs gives them the opportunity to educate U.S. politicians about the impact of capital punishment in society.  According to James Panichi, six of the seven U.S.-based projects funded by the EU to promote the abolition of capital punishment have had a “combined positive impact” on the debate.

Any influence on a stagnant political issue means lobbyists are creating change.  In Europe, justice has been proven to function without capital punishment.  The involvement of European lobbyists in U.S. politics is an exciting development as our intercultural relationships become ever more important.