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Statement by Ms. Zhou Lulu At the Sixth Committee of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly On Scope and Application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction


Madam Chair:

The Chinese Delegation appreciates the efforts of the Sixth Committee to advance the discussion of the issue of universal jurisdiction and thanks the Secretary General for his report (A/65/181) on the scope and application of the principle of universal jurisdiction. We notice that the content of the report shows that there are still great differences among members of the international community on the definition, scope, and application of universal jurisdiction.

Madam Chair,

Universal jurisdiction is a complex and sensitive legal issue. Clarifying such questions as the meaning, legal status, scope, and application of universal jurisdiction bears on the healthy development of international legal order and international relations. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate China’s views on the relevant issues concerning universal jurisdiction.

First, under contemporary international law, piracy is the only crime in relation to which universal jurisdiction may be invoked. On whether universal jurisdiction exists in cases other than piracy and on the scope and conditions for application of universal jurisdiction, there are obviously differences and controversies among states, and no customary international law is established in this regard;

Second, the “extradite or prosecute” clause in some international treaties is distinct from universal jurisdiction in a real sense. The “extradite or prosecute” is a treaty obligation applicable only to states parties to that treaty concerned. At the same time, the clause has particular application requirements, and different treaties have different provisions in this regard;

Third, in exercising jurisdiction, a state must respect another state’s immunities under international law. In another words, the exercise of jurisdiction under domestic law of a state must not compromise the immunities to which another state is entitled under international law, which include the immunity of the head of state, the immunity of the government officials performing official duties, and the immunity of state property.

Fourth, abusing so-called universal jurisdiction may constitute a violation of international law, infringe upon the sovereignty and dignity of states concerned and jeopardize the stability of international relations and normal exchanges among states.

Madam Chair,

China looks forward to the continued discussion of the issue of universal jurisdiction at this committee and hopes that an agreement can be reached. Pending that, each state should refrain from exercising jurisdiction over another state in the name of the so-called universal jurisdiction.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

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