International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

US and Universal Jurisdiction

I know that today in class we talked a lot about universal jurisdiction and I did some research and found the answer to the US and its stance on universal jurisdiction.  What I found was that the US does not exercise universal jurisdiction.  The article that I read states that the US “is concerned that the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other states may result in politically motivated prosecutions of US citizens by foreign courts.”  This stance seems to come in handy especially in consideration with Iraq since complaints of war crimes were filed against George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet.  It is convenient for political purposes but I’m wondering what your own personal take on it is.  Should the US exercise universal jurisdiction or not?

What I read came from the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court.  It is a question/answer type document about universal jurisdiction and the ICC which I think may be good just for some all around general information.  The link is:


2 responses to “US and Universal Jurisdiction

  1. ecadams February 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    In our foreign policy the U.S. government certainly stands behind a facade of spreading democracy while is is simply exercising unprecedented control. This becomes evident with our failed attempts in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the logic seems to be that invasion and control will eventually create democracy, which is so far from the truth. If the United States were serious about the spread of democracy it would become part of the ICC and exercise universal jurisdiction. Despite the flaws that we have learned about in the realms of Transitional Justice, it serves a far more effective way of healing oppressed societies and helping them on their way to democratization, while holding war criminals accountable. Of course, it would be shameful to have our own officials incarcerated for crimes, but I believe, in the long run, that it would make the United States are far more positive force in the world, as well as gaining respect in the international arena.

  2. michaelbasumass February 2, 2012 at 12:35 am

    In regards to foreign policy, The United States, like other nation-states, acts rationally in its own self-interest. It is not in the United States government’s best interest to become a member of the ICC and exercise universal jurisdiction because of the potential ramifications for the actions of our government and military. The United States’ actions in the Middle East, both with ground troops and drone strikes, have caused massive amounts of civilian death. The United States wants to protect itself from being charged with war crimes. It is also in the interest United States to maintain its role as the global hegemon, and yielding power to an international organization could potentially be a detriment to that goal.
    That being said, it is absolutely hypocritical for the United State’s to describe itself as a global force for good and a champion of human rights and democracy without joining the ICC and exercising universal jurisdiction.

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