The use of universal jurisdiction to ensure accountability for international crimes committed in Liberia in the periods 1989 to 1997 and 1999 to 2003
Author: Shannon Bosch
Affiliations: BA (Hons) LLB LLM PhD, Attorney of the High Court of South Africa, Associate Professor of Law at University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
Source: African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law, 2021, p. 67 – 92
This article investigates the potential for using the principle of universal jurisdiction to prescribe and then prosecute international crimes committed in Liberia during the two civil conflict periods: 1989 to 1997 and 1999 to 2003. More particularly, the article unpacks the concept of universal jurisdiction and explores the benefits that it offers in ending impunity for heinous international crimes. The article explores some of the controversies that have prevented the effective use of the principle of universal jurisdiction and highlights why it remains relevant, given the current response by the African Union to international prosecutions. The article highlights the reason why cases such as Kosiah and Massaquoi are especially significant in ending impunity in the case of Liberia, and how the success or failure of such cases can have a ripple effect, creating the necessary pressure for the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Court for Liberia on Liberian soil.