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Universal Jurisdiction: Building a Toolkit for Success NLS7

  • School: Nottingham Law School
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

States possess a general right, under international law, to exercise universal criminal jurisdiction in relation to serious international crimes. As such, crimes such as genocide or crimes against humanity, when alleged to have been committed by a perpetrator of any nationality, and at any location in the world, is subject to the jurisdiction of every State. The principle remains controversial, however, being particularly contested by States who perceive their nationals to be at greater risk of such investigations and prosecutions elsewhere in the world. Academic debate is rich with commentary from both sides of the debate, with a range of theoretical justifications (and rebuttals), practical benefits and obstacles, and differing interpretations of the relevant international law.

The proposed PhD research aims to build and make available a “toolkit” to help facilitate universal jurisdiction cases, thereby building and sustaining a viable subsidiary means for investigating and prosecuting international crimes that are unlikely to be punished in the State where the crimes occurred. It is anticipated that the “toolkit” will assist States historically active in prosecuting such cases while also encouraging and assisting a greater number of States in pursuing similar actions.

Indicative content may include:

  • The theoretical underpinnings of, and rationale for, the principle of universal jurisdiction;
  • The position under international law;
  • The role of universal jurisdiction in relation to investigations or prosecutions elsewhere in the world (e.g. as a “subsidiary” form of jurisdiction);
  • Custodial prerequisites to investigation/prosecution, and the implications of this;
  • The role of universal jurisdiction as a catalyst for investigative activity elsewhere;
  • Proposals towards a “model law” that States may be able to adopt to facilitate universal jurisdiction investigations or prosecutions;
  • An analysis and compilation of “best practices” (the core of the proposed “toolkit”) from successful universal jurisdiction cases – this may consist of:
    • Investigative techniques;
    • Gathering of evidence;
    • Extradition and access to suspects;
    • Prosecutorial discretion;
    • Managing diplomatic fallout.

School strategic research priority

This project aligns with Centre for Rights and Justice existing strengths in international law and sustains cross-disciplinary activity across Safety & Security of Citizens Research Theme.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

Still need help?

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