Global Policy Forum

Universal Jurisdiction - Archived Articles


2003 |2002 | 2001 | Back to Current Articles



Face to Face with Those He Tormented: War Crimes Trial for Tyrant of Chad (October 17, 2003)

In July 2003 Belgium repealed its universal jurisdiction law under US pressure. Yet, following the precedent of previous legislation, the court permits the war crimes trial against the former dictator of Chad, Hissene Habre.(Independent)

Belgian War Crimes Law Undone by Its Global Reach (September 30, 2003)

This Washington Post article argues that political motivation damages universal jurisdiction. This shows that even though "justice is something that should be separate from government and politics," it is not.

Belgium Court Dismisses War Crimes Cases (September 24, 2003)

Belgium's highest court gives in to US threat and diplomatic pressure and dismisses war crime complaints against US President George Bush, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Thus restoring the country's diplomatic relations with the United States and Israel.( Associated Press)

The Case Against the Generals (August 17, 2003)

The Torture Victim Protection Act, which gives US courts universal jurisdiction over torture cases, allows a Salvadoran surgeon to extract some measure of justice from his former torturers. (Washington Post)

Thinking Outside the US (August 4, 2003)

The US Supreme Court has recently shown a greater willingness to draw precedent from other countries' jurisprudences, suggesting a kind of global common law. (Washington Post)

Argentines Face Human Rights Trials in Europe (July 27, 2003)

Argentina has shown a new willingness to extradite alleged human rights abusers, including former members of a military junta, for crimes committed against foreign nationals within Argentina. (New York Times)

Flight into Danger: How a Suspected Torturer Was Snared in a Landmark for Human Rights (June 30, 2003)

Mexico has extradited alleged torturer Ricardo Cavallo to Spain, creating a new precedent of universal accountability for human rights abusers. (Independent)

On Learning Lessons: Belgium's Universal Jurisdiction Law Under Threat (June 25, 2003)

The US bullied Belgium into gutting its anti-atrocity law, but the real losers are victims of war crimes and international law more generally. (Common Dreams)

Belgium Makes Justice Less Global (June 24, 2003)

Under pressure from the US, Belgium shrinks from its obligation under international law to vigorously hold war criminals accountable. (Christian Science Monitor)

Belgium to Curb War Crimes Law (June 23, 2003)

Under intense pressure from the US, Belgium has diluted a law that gave Belgian courts universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity. (BBC)

Mexico Gives Boost to Universal Jurisdiction (June 16, 2003)

The Mexican Supreme Court decided to extradite Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, a former Argentine military officer, to Spain where he will answer charges of human rights violations. This ruling strengthens universal accountability for human rights abusers. (Christian Science Monitor)

US Threatens to Boycott Belgium Over War Crimes Law (June 13, 2003)

The US threatens to boycott Belgium and withhold funding from NATO in protest over a Belgian law that allows for prosecution of war criminals under universal jurisdiction. (Guardian)

Blair's Grand Mistake (May 20, 2003)

A Belgian lawyer filed a war crimes case against US general Tommy Franks, alleging a number of breaches of the Geneva Convention during the Iraq war. This Guardian article points out that the angry response from the US underlines the folly of Tony Blair's belief that the Bush administration is interested in justice.

US Commander Franks Faces Belgium Genocide Case (April 18, 2003)

Four doctors used Belgium's universal competence law to bring an action against US Commander Tommy Franks for war coalition military operations in Iraq. Legal experts think the court may gain jurisdiction over the case despite amendments to the law in March 2003, designed to avoid the law being used for political complaints. (Expatica)

Sharon Made Safe by Belgian Vote on War Crime Law (April 3, 2003)

Belgian's universal jurisdiction law looks certain to be "diluted beyond recognition" by a parliamentary vote. The law in its current form allows Belgian courts to hear cases of war crimes committed by anyone, anywhere and at anytime. Actions against world leaders have strained Belgium's diplomatic relations, prompting the legislative changes. (Guardian)

It's OK to Eat Belgian Chocolates (February 23, 2003)

This article lampoons Israel's hypocritical, angry response to a Belgian court ruling authorizing the prosecution of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The author argues that universal jurisdiction, invoked by the ruling, offers an interim solution to impunity while the International Criminal Court finds its feet. (ZNet)

Putting Sharon on Trial: Why Belgium is Doing the Right Thing (February 16, 2003)

The Belgian Supreme Court ruled that Ariel Sharon can be tried in Belgium under the law of universal jurisdiction. This article argues that the decision of the Supreme Court is neither political nor arrogant as the Israelis claim, but based solidly in law and morality. (Electronic Intifada)

Belgium Asserts Right to Try Sharon (February 13, 2003)

The Belgian appeals court rules that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be tried for genocide in Belgium once he has left office. The case relates to Sharon's responsibility for the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut in 1982. (Guardian)

Human Rights Watch: Q & A on Belgium's "Anti-Atrocity" Law (January 22, 2003)

The Belgian Parliament is currently considering amendments to its 1993 war crimes legislation known as the "anti-atrocity" or "universal jurisdiction" law. The proposed changes will bring Belgian law more closely in line with international law and allow a victim from any nation to file complaints directly to a judge, as long as there is a link to Belgium. (Human Rights Watch)

Belgium May Revive Sharon War Crimes Case (January 17, 2003)

The Belgian Parliament is redrafting their 1993 ‘universal competence' law to allow its courts to try cases of war crimes committed by anyone, anywhere and at anytime. Proceedings against Ariel Sharon for his role in the massacre of 800 Palestinians in Lebanon were previously dismissed but the legislative changes may reinstate the case. ( Guardian)




Universal Jurisdiction: Still Trying to Try Sharon (July 30, 2002)

This article traces the evolution of universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity, prior to the Belgian Appeals Court ruling that Ariel Sharon cannot be tried in Belgium. This latest development has galvanized human rights activists who will appeal to the Supreme Court to have the case reheard. (Middle East Online)

Belgian Court has Jurisdiction in Sharon Case to Investigate 1982 Sabra and Chatila Killings (May 1, 2002)

This Amnesty International paper provides a history of the case against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for crimes against humanity in 1982. The paper also discusses the International Court of Justice's ruling on head of state immunity and how this may affect the case against Sharon and Belgium's universal competence law.

Accountability for International Crimes: From Conjecture to Reality (March 2002)

This article traces the development of International Tribunals, the ICC and Universal Jurisdiction from the Nuremberg trials to the present. International Justice has come a long way since World War II, though stamping out impunity remains a daunting challenge for the world's legal institutions. (ICRC)

Disappointment on Belgian War-Crimes Law Ruling (February 14, 2002)

The International Court of Justice ruled that Belgium violated international law by issuing an arrest warrant for the Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo under its universal jurisdiction law. The decision left the Belgian war-crimes law intact, but stated that Foreign Ministers enjoyed "immunity from criminal jurisdiction." (Human Rights Watch)

If I Were Mofaz (January 1, 2002)

According to Uri Avnery, Shaul Mofaz, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Ariel Sharon have serious reasons to worry. Other countries could pass laws similar to the 1993 Belgium law, which would give universal jurisdiction for the prosecution of any alleged war criminal. (Israelinsider)




Trying to Try Sharon (September/October, 2001)

The Belgium court will decide whether Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be tried for his alleged role in the massacres of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. (MERIP)

Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction (July 23, 2001)

Leading jurists and legal experts meeting at Princeton University formulated a series of principles, now widely adopted, to guide prosecution of crimes under universal jurisdiction.

Henry Kissinger Has Become a Very Nervous Person (July 4, 2001)

Jonathan Powers argues Kissinger's recent criticism of universal jurisdiction for war crimes in Foreign Affairs betrays his fear that one day he may be prosecuted by an international court as a war criminal. (TFPFP)

Rwanda: Belgian Genocide Trial (April 12, 2001)

Belgian Courts will try Rwandans for war crimes under Belgium's universal jurisdiction law, supplementing the work of the International Tribunal for Rwanda and Rwanda's local courts. Human Rights Watch applauds the move, calling it a "major development in international justice."

The Pinochet Precedent: Individual Accountability for International Crimes (March 26, 2001)

Transcripts from a conference on the legal impact of the Pinochet case and what it means for universal jurisdiction in the future. (Institute for Policy Studies)



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.