The Sacredness of Human Life

26 July 1956

The 13th Triennial Congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 23-28 July, 1956 in Birmingham, England:

To take the life of a human being should be declared a crime against humanity:

Whether it be done by a private individual against another person (murder, manslaughter etc.),

Whether it be done by a State against one of its citizens or another person within its jurisdiction (capital punishment),

Whether it be done by a government ordering its citizens to kill citizens of another State (war) or between citizens of the same State (civil war).

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom has always stood for the principle that one should demand the same moral standard from a State as from a private individual.  In most countries it is considered a crime for a person kills another. The same should apply to the government inflicting capital punishment on one of its citizens – a punishment for which no redress is possible in case of miscarriage of justice.

Since the last war the Nuremberg Court declared the starting of war to be a crime, and the Convention on Genocide has declared the killing of a population group to be a crime.

It would seem natural to unite all these principles in an international recognition that all human life is sacred.