Our Work

Universal Jurisdiction

Universal jurisdiction is the principle where individual perpetrators responsible for atrocity crimes can be the subject of investigations or prosecutions before national domestic processes and courts irrespective of the nationalities of the perpetrator and victim, and irrespective of the territory on which the crime took place.

In Australia we have at least in law, absolute universality. Atrocity crimes which attract universal jurisdiction include the crimes of:

  • torture;
  • war crimes;
  • crimes against humanity; and
  • genocide.

These crimes are so abhorrent to all humanity, they attract the need for all states to seek to prevent and punish their commission and apply universal jurisdiction to achieve these ends.

International justice mechanisms, such as at the International Criminal Court, are unavailable for significant numbers of people and communities affected by atrocities.

National investigations and prosecutions applying universal jurisdiction, are key to closing and ending the impunity gap. In turn, these accountability mechanisms applied in third states, invigorate processes for future collective justice and accountability, or transitional justice mechanisms in the countries where the crimes took place.

The Australian Centre for International Justice is working with survivors of torture, sexual and gender-based violence and war, to push for accountability through avenues such as universal jurisdiction litigation. Our work aims to encourage Australian authorities to support survivor communities seek access to justice and accountability. The Australian Centre for International Justice, represents the first civil society push, necessary to encourage governments and authorities in Australia to act, and is the first legal centre with a clear vision and ideas for structural reform necessary to make universal jurisdiction a reality in Australia. 

Read about one of our universal jurisdiction cases here. 

For more on our policy and law reform advocacy to push universal jurisdiction and international crimes investigations and prosecutions in Australia, visit Policy and Law Reform – Permanent, Specialised International Crimes Unit. 

The Australian Centre for International Justice fights to hold accountable those responsible for the most serious international crimes. It continues to be an enormous challenge.

We work with survivors of torture, sexual violence, genocide and war to research and develop strategies to fight for justice.

We are Australia’s first specialist legal centre providing strategic advice and representation to people seeking justice and accountability.

We take action against the impunity of those responsible for committing atrocity crimes. We all benefit by supporting communities in Australia and around the world access justice.

We need your support to fight for justice.

Join us to advance international justice in Australia and make a tax-deductible donation to support our work and help us push our projects and litigation.

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