ABSTRACT

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in pursuing accountability for genocide, other crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes. This has taken place domestically, through prosecutions, lustration and even commissions of inquiry, as well as internationally, through international tribunals and through the exercise of universal jurisdiction. 1 Growing numbers of cases have been brought inside and outside the territory of states where such crimes have occurred,2 but have not always met with success, not least because of the continued ability of the accused to evade arrest and prosecution, claiming protection of amnesty and other immunities. 3 While attempts by a Spanish magistrate to gain custody of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet Ugarte drew significant international attention, as have cases brought against Henry Kissinger, the principle of universal jurisdiction is part of customary international law and appears in a variety of international crimes and continues to be applied in connection with customary international proscriptions, a variety of international legal instruments, domestic legislation and alternative bases for jurisdiction.4 It has been used in order to initiate legal proceedings for crimes committed in places as varied as Chad, Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Argentina, Chile and Suriname.