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4 Jurisdiction to Investigate and Prosecute Acts of Genocide

From: International Crimes: Law and Practice: Volume I: Genocide

Guénaël Mettraux

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 25 September 2023

Genocide — Customary international law

This chapter discusses jurisdiction over acts of genocide. The Genocide Convention provides for three jurisdictional venues of relevance to the enforcement and implementation of its terms. The first two are competent to prosecute and punish acts of genocide attributable to individual perpetrators. According to Article VI, they consist of: the competent jurisdictions of the state in which acts of genocide have been committed (i.e., the territorial state) and an ‘international penal tribunal’. In addition, Article IX of the convention provides that disputes between contracting parties ‘relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment’ of the convention can be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the request of any of the parties to the dispute. There is also some suggestion that customary international law provides for ‘universal’ jurisdiction over acts of genocide. Under the most extreme version of that proposition, any state would per force be jurisdictionally competent to investigate and prosecute acts of genocide regardless of the place where the crimes were committed and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators and victims.

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