International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

A Case for Transnational Justice

Law, in theory, should adapt to fit the magnitude of crimes committed.  Such was the case with the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, and with the creation of the International Criminal Court in 2000.  After periods of crime beyond what the world had previously seen, international forces came together to make retributive justice fit the scope atrocity the world had seen.  However, there is a type, or a system, of crime that international transitional justice systems still don’t really have the capacity to cope with– transnational crimes.

During the Cold War, the United States pursued policies and supported regimes worldwide that pushed forward anti-communist ideology.  In Latin America, this policy manifested itself in support of brutal military dictatorships that systematically “disappeared” all dissidents. In certain cases, such as in Chile, the United States even played an instrumental role in orchestrating military coups, overthrowing left-wing regimes.  The United States took part in Operation Condor, a transnational, covert intelligence operation through which left-leaning subversives were eliminated, no matter where in the Western Hemisphere they fled.

The current legal framework does not necessarily allow for prosecution of those involved in  Operation Condor.  As it stands, jurisdiction is based on the state.  A crime must have been committed on a state’s soil, against a citizen of that state, or by a citizen of that state, in order to establish jurisdiction within that state.  Universal jurisdiction is, of course, important, because it allows third party states to prosecute, but this, too has its problems.  First, it is very difficult to establish universal jurisdiction because universal jurisdiction only applies to atrocity crimes.  Second, it is still assumes prosecutions should take place in states’ courts, under a states’ systems.  This is why a system of transnational justice is necessary.  Those who planned and executed Operation Condor were not persecuting a particular state, but rather a particular ideology.  International crime crosses national borders.  Transnational crime transcends them.

If the crime is transnational, shouldn’t the justice process be, too?

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