Archived: WMA Resolution to Reaffirm the WMA’s Prohibition of Physician Participation in Capital Punishment

Adopted by the 63rd General Assembly of the World Medical Association, Bangkok, Thailand, October 2012
and rescinded at the 69th WMA General Assembly, Reykjavik, Iceland, October 2018

There is universal agreement that physicians must not participate in executions because such participation is incompatible with the physician’s role as healer. The use of a physician’s knowledge and clinical skill for purposes other than promoting health, wellbeing and welfare undermines a basic ethical foundation of medicine—first, do no harm.

The WMA Declaration of Geneva states: “I will maintain the utmost respect for human life”; and, “I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat.”

As citizens, physicians have the right to form views about capital punishment based on their individual moral beliefs. As members of the medical profession, they must uphold the prohibition against participation in capital punishment.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED that:

  • Physicians will not facilitate the importation or prescription of drugs for execution.
  • The WMA reaffirms: “that it is unethical for physicians to participate in capital punishment, in any way, or during any step of the execution process, including its planning and the instruction and/or training of persons to perform executions”, and
  • The WMA reaffirms: that physicians “will maintain the utmost respect for human life and will not use [my] medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat.”
Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Drugs for Execution, Execution, Human Rights

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