From Pinochet to Rumsfeld: Universal Jurisdiction in Europe 1998-2008

This Essay provides a survey of more than fifty universal jurisdiction proceedings in European courts and illustrates that universal jurisdiction is no longer a seldom-used theoretical concept, but a widespread practice. However, it is a practice that faces a number legal and practical obstacles identified here. Similar difficulties are encountered in other mechanisms used to combat impunity, including territorial and personality jurisdiction, state accountability at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR), and civil litigation in the United States. The Essay then begins an evaluation of the last ten years of universal jurisdiction practice and proposes a transnational, interdisciplinary, and strategic legal approach for punishing gross human rights violations, considering universal jurisdiction as one legal tool amongst others.