Is Universal Jurisdiction Becoming more Universal?

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


Universal jurisdiction is based on the powerful idea that there should be no ‘safe havens’ for perpetrators of international crimes and that victims and survivors should have access to justice. It goes back to historical proceedings, such as the Eichmann trial, has provided a basis for the Habré trial and is currently gaining particular attention in atrocity contexts, such as Syria or Ukraine. Over past decades, the concept has faced critiques based on its selectivity, political use, Eurocentricity and detachment of justice from affected communities. This panel seeks to revisit the status quo, based on contemporary developments in Europe and beyond. It asks to what extent universal jurisdiction is becoming more universal. It examines what has been achieved thus far and what shortcomings, challenges, and critiques contemporary practices face, including selectivity, evidence, nexus to migration, transparency, or engagement with victims and survivors and diaspora communities.

Panelists will discuss inter alia:

Practices, experiences, and critiques of the concept from jurisdictions in the ‘Global South’
Lessons and innovations of the Frankfurt Genocide Trial and Syria related proceedings before German Courts
Developments concerning prosecution of international crimes before Dutch Courts

Prof. dr. Carsten Stahn, Professor of International Criminal Law and Global Justice - Leiden University


Dr. Priya Pillai, International Lawyer/Head - Asia Justice Coalition
Ms. Natalie von Wistinghausen, Attorney-at-law, International Criminal Law Expert
Dr. Thijs B. Bouwknegt, Researcher - NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust, and Genocide Studies

The SCL Lecture Series is a series on international criminal law and has been organised, since 2003, by the Asser institute, the Coalition for the ICC and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden University.

This event is moreover organised within the framework of the International Bar Association International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition.
Period19 May 2022
Held atGrotius Centre for International Legal Studies (Leiden University)
Degree of RecognitionInternational