Kelly Kim Marymount High School 11th Grade
Often times when brutal dictators commit atrocious crimes, the United Nations General Assembly demands they be sent to the International Criminal Court to be tried for their actions. However, all cases brought to the ICC are subject to the veto of the Permanent 5 countries in the United Nations Security Council which are the USA, UK, France, China, and Russia.
Because each of the P5 countries have different allies and national interests, when one of these countries exercises a veto, the UN is unable to take legal action against the criminal in the ICC. As a result of the veto, many dictators are able to avoid their trials, obstruct justice, and hide behind diplomatic immunity. In direct response to such injustices, the principle of universal jurisdiction has risen in popularity with both Western leaders and the international community who wish to bring barbarous dictators to justice.
Universal jurisdiction allows the national authorities of various countries to investigate and prosecute criminals, regardless of the location of the alleged crime or the nationality of the accused person. Crimes tried under the principle of universal jurisdiction include catastrophes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, and genocide.
Because universal jurisdiction is an international principle that applies to all countries, it serves as a safety net for underdeveloped countries that are unwilling or unable to conduct effective investigations for certain crimes. If a country cannot indict a prominent criminal due to lack of infrastructure or resources, other members of the international community have the ability to intervene and prosecute the offender on behalf of that country.
Therefore, universal jurisdiction is particularly effective in developing countries with a fragile or corrupt justice system, or countries where the government actively protects and harbors unethical officials. Additionally, in countries with depraved governments, universal jurisdiction reduces the number of “safe havens” where government employees responsible for heinous crimes can enjoy impunity.
Through bringing blatant violators of human rights to justice, the universal jurisdiction establishes international standards for the justice system and sets precedence for future criminal investigations. Ultimately, universal jurisdiction exists to protect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights put out by the United Nations through enforcing the rule of law on an international scale.
<Kelly Kim Marymount High School 11th Grade