Politics of International Advocacy Against the Death Penalty: Governments as Anti–Death Penalty Crusaders


Two-thirds of the countries worldwide have moved away from the death penalty in law or in practice, with global and regional organisations as well as individual governments working towards universal abolition. This article critically examines the narratives of these abolitionist governments that have abolished the death penalty in their country and have adopted the role of ‘moral crusaders’ (Becker 1963) in pursuit of global abolition. In 2018, the Australian Government, while being surrounded by retentionist states in Asia, joined the anti–death penalty enterprise along with the European Union, the United Kingdom and Norway. Using the concepts of ‘moral crusader’ (Becker 1963) and ‘performativity’ (Butler 1993), this article argues that advocacy must be acted on repeatedly for governments to be anti–death penalty advocates. Otherwise, these government efforts serve political ends in appearance but are simply a self-serving form of advocacy in practice.

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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2022-09-01
Pages:1 to 11
Section:Special Issue: Death Penalty Politics
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How to Cite
Sato, M. . (2022) “Politics of International Advocacy Against the Death Penalty: Governments as Anti–Death Penalty Crusaders”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 11(3), pp. 1-11. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2471.

Author Biography

Monash University

Mai Sato is an Associate Professor and Director of Eleos Justice at the Faculty of Law, Monash University. Mai is the author of The Death Penalty in Japan: Will the Public Tolerate Abolition? (Springer, 2014) and co-author of Reasons to Doubt: Wrongful Convictions and the Criminal Cases Reviews Commission (OUP 2019, with Carolyn Hoyle). Mai co-runs an NGO CrimeInfo (with Maiko Tagusari) which promotes the abolition of the death penalty in Japan.