Skip to main content
The Future of Universal Jurisdiction in the New Architecture of Transnational Justice
Contributions to Books
  • Diane Orentlicher, American University Washington College of Law
In this essay the author addresses several issues raised by emerging trends in the use of universal jurisdiction. She argues that recent developments raise concerns about how jurisdictional authority should be allocated among states as well as between officials of states and officers of international tribunals. Growing recourse to universal jurisdiction raises questions about whose claim should receive priority when more than one court seeks to prosecute an individual for the same crime. The question has been further complicated by the emergence of a new breed of court, such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is shaped by negotiations that reflect political contexts. These courts, fashioned out of international and national elements, present an alternative to familiar fora for prosecution and re-invigorate incountry justice. Recent developments also present a new variant on the familiar punish-or-pardon quandary: if a nation afflicted by mass atrocities forgoes punishment in the name of national reconciliation, how should other authorities that can prosecute the perpetrators take account of the domestic policy? Since it is now possible to suppose that several courts might assert jurisdiction with respect to the same crime, the author contends that the legal community needs to forge principled rules for reconciling the claims of multiple communities—national, transnational, and international.
Publication Date
  • Universal jurisdiction,
  • Human rights,
  • International tribunals,
  • Transnational justice
Citation Information
Orentlicher, Diane. “The Future of Universal Jurisdiction in the New Architecture of Transnational Justice.” In Human Rights: Critical Concepts in Political Science, Vol. 3, edited by Richard A. Falk, Hilal Elver, and Lisa Hajar, 63-102. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008.