Universal Jurisdiction Is Not Disappearing: The Shift from ‘Global Enforcer’ to ‘No Safe Haven’ Universal Jurisdiction
13 Journal of International Criminal Justice, 2015, Forthcoming
12 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 18, 2015
The history of universal jurisdiction over core international crimes has often been framed as story of rise and fall. NGO activism was regarded as a cause for both the rise and the fall; the rise culminated with the arrest of General Pinochet in 1998 and the fall came with the ‘amputation’ of the universal jurisdiction laws in Belgium in 2003 and Spain in 2009 and 2014. In this article the author offers an alternative view of this history. He argues that universal jurisdiction is not on the decline since the number of universal jurisdiction statutes and trials has increased and the number of universal jurisdiction complaints has not substantially decreased in recent years. Rather, the trajectory of universal jurisdiction can be understood as an ongoing competition between two conceptions of the role states in the universal jurisdiction regime. In the ‘global enforcer’ conception, states have a role in preventing and punishing core international crimes committed anywhere in the world, while in the ‘no safe haven’ conception, states should not be a refuge for participants in core international crimes. In recent years, the ‘no safe haven’ conception has made important inroads in legislation and prosecution of international crimes, but the ‘global enforcer’ conception is still present in the universal jurisdiction regime. Though NGOs prefer the ‘global enforcer’ conception, with its strong anti-impunity rationale, these organizations have (involuntarily) contributed to the advancement of the ‘no safe haven’ approach through their legalistic position and ambiguous rhetoric about universal jurisdiction.
Keywords: Universal Jurisdiction, International Criminal Law, Core International Crimes
JEL Classification: K14, K33, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation