Human Rights Council @ Jaypee MUN 2013

By Shubhangni Gupta
From Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi
Posted Mar 5th 2013 2:00AM

As the countdown for LSR MUN 2013 has begun, MUNers from LSR are frequenting other MUNs as well to get maximum experience at the best MUNs in India to pitch in with excellent substantive quality at their own conference. Shambhavi Sharma, an ardent MUNer, as well as Associate Under Secretary General, Logistics, gives us a detailed account of the Human Rights Council at Jaypee MUN 2013.
The agenda for discussion before the committee was the Universal Abolition of the Death Penalty. Capital Punishment is the legal process whereby a person is put to death by the state as a punishment for a crime. Through the centuries most countries of the world have slowly moved towards abolition or at least had a moratorium on the death penalty in either law or practice. Although most nations have abolished capital punishment, quantitatively speaking over 60% of the world's population live in countries where executions take place, such as the People's Republic of China, India, the United States of America and Indonesia, the four most-populous countries in the world, which continue to apply the death penalty (although in India, Indonesia and in many US states it is rarely employed).
Some of the problems related to the use of death penalty as a punishment is that there is a possibility of wrongful executions taking place, convicts are often not given the right to a fair trial or the right to seek pardon even though these rights are guaranteed under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Moreover, Article 6 of the ICCPR states that nations which have not abolished the death penalty may execute criminals only for the "most serious" crimes, thus what constitutes a "most serious" crime is a very contentious issue and may vary from country to country depending on the national law of that country. For eg., in Islamic countries that follow the Sharia Law 'zinah' or adultery is a crime which is punishable by death. Also, in certain countries drug-related offences like trafficking are punishable by death while in others only crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide come under the purview of capital punishment. In fact, the United Nations abolished the death penalty even for those convicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia(ICTY) and Rwanda(ICTR).
Thus, during committee proceedings a sharp divide was seen between two sets of nations, one standing for the complete abolition of the death penalty seeing it as inherently inhumane and in violation of fundamental human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR while others, such as Libya, USA and India supporting the death penalty. There was a consensus that was reached in terms of juvenile executions with all the member nations condemning the execution of juvenile offenders as illegal, unjust and inhuman. The resolution that was finally passed by the committee reflected the deeply divided opinion on the death penalty among countries in the world and also the unlikelihood of a universal abolition of capital punishment in a foreseeable future.

Therefore, with a crucial issue like capital punishment and its significance in a national and international context makes one think objectively and not be swayed by public opinion and mass emotion that seems to sway according to the current public issues. Tanya, a participant at the event tells us, "Being a part of this committee has joined the bridges of thought between international issues and their current correlation to the contemporary context. By taking global examples, one can get a multi-dimensional perspective and think in an objective fashion." Truly, HRC at Jaypee MUN 2013 was a truly learning experience.
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