Universal Jurisdiction for Syrian Cases: Path to Accountability or False Hope?




Daghestani, Sumaya

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This thesis explores the potential utility of universal jurisdiction to prosecute atrocity crimes committed against the people of Syria by the Syrian regime and its affiliates. Entitled “Universal Jurisdiction for Syrian Cases: Path to Accountability or False Hope,” the thesis evaluates the potential efficacy of universal jurisdiction prosecutions to advance justice and accountability in the case of Syria. Of the various mechanisms that exist in the international criminal justice apparatus, many scholars, experts, and activists view universal jurisdiction, as one of the most viable means by which Syrian victims might hold perpetrators of crimes responsible. Universal jurisdiction is a legal means by which certain crimes particularly war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide -- can be prosecuted in national courts, regardless of where the crime occurred and the nationalities of the perpetrator and victim. It is the basis of several ongoing prosecutions against officials of the Assad regime. One earlier prosecution resulted in a conviction. These cases offer hope to Syrians around the globe that government actors and agents responsible for heinous attacks and crimes against the Syrian people will be held accountable. Drawing on lessons learned from other uses of universal jurisdiction, this thesis examines the extent to which universal jurisdiction can deliver accountability for Syria.


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