Immigration and Human Rights Law Review


Universal jurisdiction is a tool that allows States to prosecute perpetrators of heinous crimes, even when the crimes are seemingly unrelated to the prosecuting country. While the principles of universal jurisdiction are not a new concept, the frequency at which universal jurisdiction is used has rapidly increased. The explanation for this explosion in the use of universal jurisdiction is a direct product of the extradition of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to Spain for war crimes and genocide. While Pinochet’s case ended long ago, the impact it left on the international legal community will live on for decades to come. This article first explores the history of universal jurisdiction and Pinochet’s impact. The article then analyzes the strengths and challenges associated with universal jurisdiction. Finally, the article applies the principles established in Pinochet’s case to current cases utilizing universal jurisdiction, while assessing the potential challenges these cases may face as they move forward.