Universal Jurisdiction: National Courts and the Prosecution of Serious Crimes Under International Law

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This particular publication is likely to become an essential one in the analysis of jurisprudential bases for the heinous activity that such jurisdiction is bound to eradicate."—American Society of International Law Newsletter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812219500
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2006
  • Series: Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 1,306,980
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Macedo is Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics and Director of the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He chairs the Princeton Project on Universal Jurisdiction, where this book originated.

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Table of Contents

—Stephen Macedo

Preface to the Princeton Principles
—Mary Robinson
The Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction
Commentary on the Principles
—Steven W. Becker

1. The History of Universal Jurisdiction and Its Place in International Law
—M. Cherif Bassiouni
2. Comment: The Quest for Clarity
—Stephen A. Oxman
3. The Growing Support for Universal Jurisdiction in National Legislation
—A. Hays Butler
4. The Adolf Eichmann Case: Universal and National Jurisdictions
—Gary J. Bass
5. Comment: Connecting the Threads in the Fabric of International Law
—Lori F. Damrosch
6. Assessing the Pinochet Litigation: Whither Universal Jurisdiction?
—Richard A. Falk
7. Comment: Universal Jurisdiction and Transitions to Democracy
—Pablo De Greiff
8. The Hissène Habré Case: The Law and Politics of Universal Jurisdiction
—Stephen P. Marks
9. Defining the Limits: Universal Jurisdiction and National Courts
—Anne-Marie Slaughter
10. Universal Jurisdiction, National Amnesties, and Truth Commissions: Reconciling the Irreconcilable
—Leila Nadya Sadat
11. The Future of Universal Jurisdiction in the New Architecture of Transnational Justice
—Diane F. Orentlicher
12. Universal Jurisdiction and Judicial Reluctance: A New "Fourteen Points"
—Michael Kirby
13. Afterword: The Politics of Advancing International Criminal Justice
—Lloyd Axworthy

List of Contributors
List of Project Participants

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