Topic: 2023-The Principle of Universal Jurisdiction
Delegate Name: Megan Sims
Honorable Chair and Fellow Delegates, the delegation of Türkiye agrees that universal jurisdiction is an important way that allows “victims of grave crimes to seek justice if the territorial state is unable or unwilling to conduct an effective investigator and trial.” This reduces the existence of safe havens where war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and genocide go unpunished. However, we have concerns about the potential for abuse or manipulation. Universal jurisdiction may be applied inconsistently and perhaps even incorrectly in the righteous pursuit of justice (Gladstone, 2021). It is important that we respect all nations equally, honor their ability to self-govern on issues within their borders, and avoid interfering in the internal matters of State. Exercising the right to utilize universal jurisdiction is valuable but must be done with the utmost caution (Kontorovich, 2008)
To minimize abuse of power, economic pressures, or political coercion, we propose that a prosecutor pursuing an investigation and trial of war crime charges must first file a notice of intent with the International Court of Justice, the judicial arm of the United Nations. The prosecutor must provide sufficient evidence that establishes that a State where the crime occurred is ignoring the charges and does not plan to act timely before proceeding with legal proceedings in their country which may have absolutely no connection to the crime.
For example, charges of genocide must be managed with diligence and care. We are concerned that actions taken by countries may be taken out of context, disregarding the facts of the situation, and that different parties of the “situation” could be biased towards others. We do not wish to see the definition of genocide diminished by frivolous lawsuits and attempts to pursue an alternative agenda and not addressing the true issues. In addition, we want to avoid situations that pit the decisions and priorities of the engaged State against the opinion of another nation. For example, if members of the military are granted amnesty for the sake of peace negotiations, is it prudent for another nation to initiate prosecution and jeopardize that?
Therefore, it’s critical to have a process to validate and determine if the intent to prosecute a crime against humanity is pure and without political motivation or economic motivations. The International Court of Justice has a long-standing record of such objective evaluations. The sovereign country where the crime occurred responsible must be given an opportunity to investigate and try the charges presented. If there is a failure to act or take the issues seriously in a timely manner, then the World Court can determine that universal jurisdiction is appropriate and should be pursued by the Nation seeking to prosecute on behalf of the victims of such atrocities.