UN Human Rights Committee: General Discussion on the Right to Life

united-nations-flagOn the occasion of its 114th session, to be held in Geneva from 29 June to 24 July 2015, the UN Human Rights Committee will hold a half day of general discussion in preparation for a General Comment on Article 6 (Right to Life) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

Article 6

1. Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

2. In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.

3. When deprivation of life constitutes the crime of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this article shall authorize any State Party to the present Covenant to derogate in any way from any obligation assumed under the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

4. Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence. Amnesty, pardon or commutation of the sentence of death may be granted in all cases.

5. Sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age and shall not be carried out on pregnant women.

6. Nothing in this article shall be invoked to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment by any State Party to the present Covenant.

Object and purpose of the half day of general discussion

The purpose of the general discussion is to commence the Committee’s process of developing a General Comment on article 6, expanding upon its earlier general comments No. 6 and 14 (from 1982 and 1984), in light of later experience obtained in the review of State reports and communications and in the adoption of General Comments on related issues.  The purpose of the general comment is to provide appropriate and authoritative guidance to States Parties and other actors on the measures to be adopted to ensure full compliance with the rights protected under this provision.


A note has been adopted by the Committee (CCPR/C/GC/R.36) on the half-day of general discussion which identifies the issues the Rapporteurs on the General Comment, Mr. Yuval Shany and Sir Nigel Rodley, contemplate may be addressed in the General Comment. In this note, the issues are organized for convenience first by subparagraph of Article 9, and then followed by cross-cutting issues.

Date and venue

The half day discussion will take place in a plenary meeting at the Palais des Nations. Room XIX – 14 July 2015, 8-14, avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva, from 10 to 13 hrs.


The Human Rights Committee invites interested members of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), civil society, and academia to participate and to provide written information on the subject Interpretation will be provided in the following languages: Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Written Participations:

Numerous NGOs have already submitted their written contributions for this debate. So far, it appears that a strong majority of contributions come from pro-life organisations. In the below list, the contributions of NGOs that are identifiable as pro-life  (in the sense that they advocate the protection of human life from the moment of conception) are indicated in bold, the contributions of anti-life groups (i.e. groups that use this forum as an occasion to promote abortion) in italics:

Written contributions for the half day of discussion