Jurisdictional Bases for Criminal Legislation and its Enforcement

The doctrine of jurisdiction-the authority of nations or states to create or prescribe penal or regulatory norms and to enforce them through administrative and judicial action- has been a source of difficulty in both international and domestic law for centuries. The last two decades, however, have witnessed more conflicts over the invocation of forum penal laws to reach persons and activities outside national boundaries than had arisen for more than a century before. Moreover, treaties restricting some dimensions of penal jurisdiction based on other than the territorial concept have become increasingly common, and some nations have legislated to prevent their citizens or subjects from submitting to demands made by other countries exercising extraterritorial powers. Before considering these developments and law reform measures arising from them, it may be helpful to survey traditional international law principles affecting legislative and adjudicative jurisdiction and relevant American state and federal precedent.