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National Prosecutions for International Crimes

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the jurisdictional aspects of defenses to national prosecutions for war crimes that have no direct counterpart in international prosecutions. It describes the substantive aspects of defenses to prosecutions for war crimes that are co-evolving before national and international criminal tribunals. The chapter also provides a history and analysis of the exercise of universal jurisdiction and discusses the initial passage of the War Crimes Act of 1996. It suggests additional changes that should be incorporated into the Act. The Alien Tort Claims Act or Alien Tort Statute (ATCA or ATS) provides U.S. district courts with ?original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.? This brief statute, devoid of legislative history, has sparked expansive academic commentary and controversy.

Keywords: Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA); Alien Tort Statute (ATS); defenses; international criminal tribunals; international prosecutions; national prosecutions; U.S. district courts; war crimes; War Crimes Act of 1996



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