The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, is a treaty that seeks to abolish the use of capital punishment worldwide. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 15, 1989, and came into force on July 11, 1991.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a human rights treaty that guarantees various civil and political rights, including the right to life, freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to a fair trial. The Second Optional Protocol was introduced as an additional protocol to the ICCPR to further protect the right to life by working towards the complete abolition of the death penalty.
The Second Optional Protocol is based on the recognition that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. It affirms that no one within the jurisdiction of a state party to the protocol shall be executed and prohibits states from reintroducing the death penalty if they have abolished it.
States that have ratified the Second Optional Protocol commit themselves to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty within their jurisdiction. However, the protocol recognizes that states may have constitutional or legal limitations that prevent them from immediately abolishing the death penalty and allows for a reservation that states will abolish the death penalty in accordance with their legal systems.
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, a total of 89 states have ratified the Second Optional Protocol. However, it’s important to note that the information may have changed since then. The protocol continues to serve as an important international instrument in the global efforts to gradually eliminate the use of capital punishment.