Princeton University Program in Law and Public Affairs, The Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction 28 (2001).
The participants in the Princeton Project on Universal Jurisdiction propose the following principles for the purposes of advancing the continued evolution of international law and the application of
international law in national legal systems:
Principle 1 -- Fundamentals of Universal Jurisdiction
1. For purposes of these Principles, universal jurisdiction is criminal jurisdiction based solely on the nature of the crime, without regard to where the crime was committed, the nationality of the alleged or convicted perpetrator, the nationality of the victim, or any other connection to the
state exercising such jurisdiction.
2. Universal jurisdiction may be exercised by a competent and ordinary judicial body of any state in order to try a person duly accused of committing serious crimes under international law as specified in Principle 2(1), provided the person is present before such judicial body.
3. A state may rely on universal jurisdiction as a basis for seeking the extradition of a person accused or convicted of committing a serious crime under international law as specified in Principle 2(1) provided that it has established a prima facie case of the person's guilt and that the person sought to be extradited will be tried or the punishment carried out in accordance with international norms and standards on the protection of human rights in the context of criminal proceedings.
4. In exercising universal jurisdiction or in relying upon universal jurisdiction as a basis for seeking extradition, a state and its judicial organs shall observe international due process norms including but not limited to those involving the rights of the accused and victims, the fairness of the proceedings, and the independence and impartiality of the judiciary (hereinafter referred to as "international due process norms").
5. A state shall exercise universal jurisdiction in good faith and in accordance with its rights and obligations under international law.
Principle 2 -- Serious Crimes Under International Law
1. For purposes of these Principles, serious crimes under international law include: (1) piracy; (2) slavery; (3) war crimes; (4) crimes against peace; (5) crimes against humanity; (6) genocide; and (7) torture.
2. The application of universal jurisdiction to the crimes listed in paragraph 1 is without prejudice to the application of universal jurisdiction to other crimes under international law.
Principle 3 -- Reliance on Universal Jurisdiction in the Absence of
With respect to serious crimes under international law as specified in Principle 2(1), national judicial organs may rely on universal jurisdiction even if their national legislation does not specifically provide for it.
Principle 4 -- Obligation to Support Accountability
1. A state shall comply with all international obligations that are applicable to: prosecuting or extraditing persons accused or convicted of crimes under international law in accordance with a legal process that complies with international due process norms, providing other states
investigating or prosecuting such crimes with all available means of administrative and judicial assistance, and under-taking such other necessary and appropriate measures as are consistent with international norms and standards.
2. A state, in the exercise of universal jurisdiction, may, for purposes of prosecution, seek judicial assistance to obtain evidence from another state, provided that the requesting state has a good faith basis and that the evidence sought will be used in accordance with international due process norms.
Principle 5 -- Immunities
With respect to serious crimes under international law as specified in Principle 2(1), the official position of any accused person, whether as head of state or government or as a responsible government official, shall not relieve such person of criminal responsibility nor mitigate
Principle 6 -- Statutes of Limitations
Statutes of limitations or other forms of prescription shall not apply to aerious crimes under international law as specified in Principle 2(1).
Principle 7 -- Amnesties
1. Amnesties are generally inconsistent with the obligation of states to provide accountability for serious crimes under international law as specified in Principle in 2(1).
2. The exercise of universal jurisdiction with respect to serious crimes under international law as specified in Principle 2(1) shall not be precluded by amnesties which are incompatible with the international legal obligations of the granting state.
Principle 8 -- Resolution of Competing National Jurisdictions
Where more than one state has or may assert jurisdiction over a person and where the state that has custody of the person has no basis for jurisdiction other than the principle of universality, that state or its judicial organs shall, in deciding whether to prosecute or extradite, base their decision on an aggregate balance of the following criteria:
(a) multilateral or bilateral treaty obligations;
(b) the place of commission of the crime;
(c) the nationality connection of the alleged perpetrator to the
(d) the nationality connection of the victim to the requesting state;
(e) any other connection between the requesting state and the alleged
perpetrator, the crime, or the victim;
(f) the likelihood, good faith, and effectiveness of the prosecution in
the requesting state;
(g) the fairness and impartiality of the proceedings in the requesting
(h) convenience to the parties and witnesses, as well as the availability
of evidence in the requesting state; and
(i) the interests of justice.
Principle 9 -- Non Bis In Idem/ Double Jeopardy
1. In the exercise of universal jurisdiction, a state or its judicial organs shall ensure that a person who is subject to criminal proceedings shall not be exposed to multiple prosecutions or punishment for the same criminal conduct where the prior criminal proceedings or other accountability proceedings have been conducted in good faith and in accordance with international norms and standards. Sham prosecutions or derisory punishment resulting from a conviction or other accountability proceedings shall not be recognized as falling within the scope of this
2. A state shall recognize the validity of a proper exercise of universal jurisdiction by another state and shall recognize the final judgment of a competent and ordinary national judicial body or a competent international judicial body exercising such jurisdiction in accordance with international due process norms.
3. Any person tried or convicted by a state exercising universal jurisdiction for serious crimes under international law as specified in Principle 2(1) shall have the right and legal standing to raise before any national or international judicial body the claim of non bis in idem in opposition to any further criminal proceedings.
Principle 10 -- Grounds for Refusal of Extradition
1. A state or its judicial organs shall refuse to entertain a request for extradition based on universal jurisdiction if the person sought is likely to face a death penalty sentence or to be subjected to torture or any other cruel, degrading, or inhuman punishment or treatment, or if it is likely that the person sought will be subjected to sham proceedings in which international due process norms will be violated and no satisfactory assurances to the contrary are provided.
2. A state which refuses to extradite on the basis of this Principle shall, when permitted by international law, prosecute the individual accused of a serious crime under international law as specified in Principle 2(1) or extradite such person to another state where this can be done without exposing him or her to the risks referred to in paragraph 1.
Principle 11 -- Adoption of National Legislation
A state shall, where necessary, enact national legislation to enable the exercise of universal jurisdiction and the enforcement of these Principles.
Principle 12 -- Inclusion of Universal Jurisdiction in Future Treaties
In all future treaties, and in protocols to existing treaties, concerned with serious crimes under international law as specified in Principle 2(1), states shall include provisions for universal jurisdiction.
Principle 13 -- Strengthening Accountability and Universal Jurisdiction
1. National judicial organs shall construe national law in a manner that is consistent with these Principles.
2. Nothing in these Principles shall be construed to limit the rights and obligations of a state to prevent or punish, by lawful means recognized under international law, the commission of crimes under international law.
3. These Principles shall not be construed as limiting the continued development of universal jurisdiction in international law.
Principle 14 -- Settlement of Disputes
1. Consistent with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, states should settle their disputes arising out of the exercise of universal jurisdiction by all available means of peaceful settlement of disputes and in particular by submitting the dispute to the International Court of Justice.
2. Pending the determination of the issue in dispute, a state seeking to exercise universal jurisdiction shall not detain the accused person nor seek to have that person detained by another state unless there is a reasonable risk of flight and no other reasonable means can be found to
ensure that person's eventual appearance before the judicial organs of the state seeking to exercise its jurisdiction.