This chapter outlines the present state of universal jurisdiction over the ‘core crimes’ of international criminal law, and situates it within the overall development of that law. It argues that if regular enforcement is a goal of the emerging system of international justice, then universal jurisdiction will be an essential part of that system. At the same time, applying universal jurisdiction is laden with difficulties, not least because of its reliance on national authorities to enforce international norms, given the historical reluctance of those authorities to play this role. As reticence to apply this doctrine rests in important part of fear of its uncontrolled exercise, the necessary controls must be imposed through criteria that are applied in a transparent manner.
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