The Rise and Fall of Universal Jurisdiction

HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW, W. Schabas and N. Bernaz, eds., London: Routledge, 2010

36 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2010

Date Written: February 16, 2010

Abstract

The article considers the rise and fall of universal jurisdiction. I begin by revisiting the unique Zeitgeist of the 1990s and by broaching the actors behind the campaign for universal jurisdiction. Then I discuss how these actors, mainly non-governmental organizations, framed the issue and how policy-oriented international lawyers constructed the legal argument. Thereafter I review the (alleged) historical sources of universal jurisdiction and their contemporary (distorted) interpretation. My subsequent examination of post-World War II multilateral treaty practice finds little enthusiasm among states for universal jurisdiction. After that I assess cases of the last fifteen or so years, distinguishing between “hard” cases (in courts) and “virtual” cases (in the media). Next I show in a brief post mortem how a backlash in Africa, the United States, Israel, and China against virtual trials in Europe caused the premature end of universal jurisdiction. In the final section I draw some lessons and ponder its future.

Suggested Citation

Reydams, Luc, The Rise and Fall of Universal Jurisdiction (February 16, 2010). HANDBOOK OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW, W. Schabas and N. Bernaz, eds., London: Routledge, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1553734

Luc Reydams (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame ( email )

217 OSHAG
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

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