Acta Universitatis Danubius. Juridica, Vol 7, No 1 (2011)

The Problem of Universal Jurisdiction in Curbing International Crimes

Hasanov Rahim


There is generally no agreed doctrinal definition of universal jurisdiction in customary and conventional international law. However, this does not preclude any definition, which embodies the essence of the concept as the ability to exercise jurisdiction irrespective of territoriality or nationality. Therefore, the concept of universal jurisdiction applies to a situation where “the nature of (an) act entitles a State to exercise its jurisdiction to apply its laws, even if the act has occurred outside its territory, has been perpetrated by a non-national, and even if (its) nationals have not been harmed by the acts.” “Universal jurisdiction” refers to the competence of a national court to try a person suspected of a serious international crime-such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or torture-even if neither the suspect nor the victim are nationals of the country where the court is located (“the forum state”), and the crime took place outside that country. Universal jurisdiction is a legal principle which has evolved in order to overcome jurisdictional gaps in the international legal order. It is intended to ensure that those responsible for international crimes - which include genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and torture - are brought to justice. Universal jurisdiction is primarily enacted when States with a more traditional jurisdictional nexus to the crime (related, inter alia, to the place of commission, or the perpetrator's nationality) prove unable or unwilling to genuinely investigate and prosecute: when their legal system is inadequate, or when it is used to shield the accused from justice.


Full Text: 110-125


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