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Statement by Chinese Delegate Mr. Zhou Wu at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly On Agenda Item 86 The Scope and Application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction

2015/10/20
 

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation appreciates the efforts made by the Sixth Committee and its working group to determine the scope and the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction.

As a composite issue involving legal, political and diplomatic aspects, universal jurisdiction is both complex and sensitive. The Sixth Committee has deliberated on this topic for seven consecutive years, yet there are still notable differences among states on its definition and scope of application. Except for a handful of serious crimes such as piracy on the high seas, states have widely divergent views on the scope of crimes to which universal jurisdiction is applicable. A consensus is still far off.

Mr. Chairman,

To accurately understand the process and direction of the consideration of this item, it is necessary to recall the original intention of the General Assembly when it established this item. Consideration of this item by the General Assembly is intended to clarify the meaning of universal jurisdiction, determine its scope of and conditions for application and prevent its abuse for whatever purposes. Therefore, the Chinese delegation believes that the priority of our consideration now is to ensure prudent application of this principle by states and prevent its abuse so as to avoid producing negative effects on the stability of state-to-state relations.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese delegation wishes to reiterate that a state must strictly follow international law in establishing and exercising universal jurisdiction. With the exception of piracy, there exist currently notable differences and controversies among member states on whether universal jurisdiction exists in other cases and on its scope and application conditions. Relevant rules of customary international law have yet to emerge. In the meantime, universal jurisdiction is different from the obligation of “extradite or prosecute” established by a series of international treaties against transnational crimes. It is also different from the jurisdiction explicitly granted to existing international judicial bodies by specific treaties or other legal instruments.

In the absence of an international consensus on the definition, scope and application of universal jurisdiction, states should refrain from going beyond the current international law and seeking to unilaterally claim and exercise universal jurisdiction not explicitly permitted by the current international law, so as to effectively safeguard the basic principles of international law and the common interest of the international community, and ensure stable and healthy development of international relations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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