Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the seventh World Congress against the Death Penalty, in Brussels on 27 February:
I am pleased to greet this World Congress.
The death penalty has no place in the twenty-first century.
I oppose it in all circumstances. And I am proud that my home country, Portugal, was one of the first to abolish capital punishment 150 years ago.
Last December, the General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty was co-sponsored by 121 States — the highest number ever.
I welcome this progress. But it is far from enough.
The practice is still employed despite its cruelty, despite the myth that it deters crime and despite the knowledge that innocent people have been — and may continue to be — put to death.
As Secretary-General of the United Nations, alongside the majority of Member States and civil society, I will continue to advocate for the universal abolishment of capital punishment. Together we can bring about this change.
In that spirit, I wish you fruitful discussions and look forward to working with you to advance this movement.