Delegate Name: Julia Malone
Submitted To: Legal Committee
Subject: The Principle of Universal Jurisdiction
Universal jurisdiction is the principle of allowing any state indiscriminate power in legal proceedings in the event of occurrences such as genocide, war crimes, slavery, and torture. The concept was created in the 1949 Geneva Convention as part of a larger plan to prevent another Holocaust. The first use of universal jurisdiction was by the Israeli government to prosecute a genocidal Third Reich leader despite the leader having no formal connections to Israel.
While Ethiopia sees that having a universal jurisdiction policy has merit, the country also believes that universal jurisdiction should only be used if absolutely necessary. The country of Ethiopia fears that universal jurisdiction will be abused by countries attempting to advance their own policies and not for the overall well-being of the world.
Ethiopia believes that territorial, national, and security jurisdictions should all be exhausted before considering the usage of universal jurisdiction. In a 2023 statement to the United Nations Chairperson, Ethiopia doubled down on its rejection of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (ICC), a policy Ethiopia has held since the founding of the ICC.
Ethiopia did not always have such a cynical view on universal jurisdiction, as shown by the country’s consistent support of both the various Geneva Conventions and generalized punishments for those who have committed war crimes. In 2006, an African Union-European Union joint report on universal jurisdiction stressed that “Temporal, geographical, personal and subject-matter limitations on the jurisdiction of international criminal courts and tribunals mean that universal jurisdiction remains a vital element in the fight against impunity.” Ethiopia agrees with this joint statement as a founding and continually prominent member of the African Union. Ethiopia recognizes that local and even national justice systems are not always up to par and additionally realizes that universal jurisdiction exists to remedy this issue.
In 2011, the ICC began employing an unofficial policy targeting African leaders. Thus, Ethiopia began an official policy stating that the ICC should not continue exercising its power over the sovereignty of established states. While the ICC has some limits to its power, Ethiopia would like to fully reconsider the idea of even having such a body to begin with.
In this committee, Ethiopia would like to thoroughly evaluate the values and limitations of practical applications of universal jurisdiction. Ethiopia would like to create new guidelines that specify exactly which events universal jurisdiction can be used in and to what extent it can be used. Ethiopia would also like to see serious consideration of the merits of having an International Criminal Court in its present form. Additionally, Ethiopia looks forward to debating in committee this GLIMUN and cannot wait to see all the other delegations!
Taye, Bethelihem. “Ethiopia Statement — Universal Jurisdiction — Sixth Committee (Legal) — 78th Session.” The United Nations, Sept. 2023.
International Justice Resource Center. “Universal Jurisdiction.” International Justice Resource Center, 7 Feb. 2010, https://ijrcenter.org/cases-before-national-courts/domestic-exercise-of-universal-jurisdiction/#:~:text=The%20term%20%E2%80%9Cuniversal%20jurisdiction%E2%80%9D%20refers,community%20or%20international%20order%20itself%2C. Accessed 19 Nov. 2023.
Mohammed, Yusuf Ali. (2022). International Criminal Court and Ethiopia: Comparative Overview and Trends of Current Development. Journal of International Relations and Political Science Studies, (6), 2–19.
“Basic Facts on Universal Jurisdiction.” Human Rights Watch, 19 Oct. 2009, https://www.hrw.org/news/2009/10/19/basic-facts-universal-jurisdiction. Accessed 22 Nov. 2023.