On October 11, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an intervention during the Sixth Committee deliberations of the Seventy-third Session of the General Assembly on Agenda Items 87 dedicated to “The Scope and Application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction.”
In his statement, Archbishop Auza said that the Sixth Committee is entrusted with furthering the cause of justice in the world and he zeroed in on the issue of redressing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The creation of universally agreed jurisdictional norms to ensure that such atrocity crimes are investigated, prosecuted and punished is important, he stated. There is a need to balance, he added, between sovereign equality, non-interference and the immunity of State officials on the one hand, and the duty to hold people accountable for atrocity crimes on the other. Such legal accountability must be consistent with the principles of criminal justice and firmly rooted in the principle of subsidiarity, he said. To exercise universal jurisdiction, he said, the State where the forum is held should be connected to the facts or parties of the case and should not be done in absentia. Particular care, he noted, should be given when setting aside jurisdictional immunities of public officials. He said that the Holy See supports further study of the topic through the Working Group established for that purpose, through the International Law Commission, and in line with the recommendations of Resolution 70/119.
The statement can be found here.