This report has three main objectives. The first is to conduct a rigorous quantitative survey of national legislation worldwide to determine the extent to which States have prohibited crimes against humanity (CAH) under domestic law. The second is to engage in a limited but illustrative qualitative analysis of CAH laws where they do exist. And finally, for those States identified as having per se CAH legislation, this report seeks to establish the extent to which it is paired with the extraterritorial jurisdiction provisions necessary to make the CAH norms most effective.
Our report concludes that the prevailing panorama of domestic legislation with respect to CAH is inadequate for the effective prosecution and prevention of CAH worldwide. While calculations vary based on the methodology used, we determined that, at most, just over 40 percent of all States worldwide have enacted some form of domestic legislation prohibiting CAH per se. Even where States have enacted such legislation, it often falls short of the definition of CAH set forth in Article 7 of the Rome Statute.
Indeed, States that have enacted CAH legislation tend to have substantially different definitions of these crimes. Divergent definitions for CAH among States may hinder the effective prosecution or extradition of suspects, as well as other forms of inter-State cooperation. With respect to jurisdiction, our report indicates that a majority of States that have adopted per se CAH legislation have also enacted jurisdictional provisions authorizing the exercise of universal jurisdiction over these crimes. However, because those States are a minority, only a quarter of all States worldwide will be able to exercise some form of universal jurisdiction over CAH per se.
GW Paper Series
George Washington International Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 481, 2014; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2020-42; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-42