Universal Jurisdiction

Universal Jurisdiction

National Courts and the Prosecution of Serious Crimes Under International Law

Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights

Edited by Stephen Macedo

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

392 pages, 155.00 x 235.00 x 0.00 mm

  • ISBN: 9780812219500
  • Published: February 2006

£24.99

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When former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London at the request of a Spanish judge, the world's attention was focused for the first time on the idea of universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction stands for the principle that atrocities such as genocide, torture, and war crimes are so heinous and so universally abhorred that any state is entitled to prosecute these crimes in its national courts regardless of where they were committed or the nationality of the perpetrators or the victims. In 2001, two Rwandan nuns were convicted in a Belgian court for atrocities committed in Rwanda against Rwandans. Serbs have been prosecuted in German courts, and a court in Senegal asserted universal jurisdiction over the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré. Universal jurisdiction is becoming a potent instrument of international law, but it is poorly understood by legal experts and remains a mystery to most public officials and citizens.

Universal Jurisdiction brings together leading scholars to discuss the origins, evolution, and implications of this legal weapon against impunity. They examine the questions that cloud its future, and its role in specific cases involving Adolf Eichmann, Pinochet, Habré, and former Rwandan government officials, among others, in order to determine the proper place of universal jurisdiction in the emerging regime of international legal accountability.