Earlier this month the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a 233-page report, Nepal Conflict Report, detailing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law between 1996 and 2006.
As a follow-up to the report, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued a hard-hitting brief, calling on Nepal’s government to prosecute state actors and then-insurgents responsible for abuses. Not a single person has been brought to trial in the six years since the peace accords; nor have promised steps to truth-telling been taken.
The twist is that the ICJ followed up the call for accountability with a threat of sorts: if Nepal’s government doesn’t pursue accountability, other states shouldn’t hesitate doing so on the basis of universal jurisdiction. In a press release just after the U.N. report was made public, ICJ’s Asia Director Sam Jarifi reminded:
Nepal’s international supporters should press the government to meet its commitments and its obligations under international law….Meanwhile, all countries have an obligation to cooperate in investigation and prosecution of any individual facing credible allegations of serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law, including prosecution of suspected perpetrators under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction.
This new (secondary) appeal to universal jurisdiction in post-conflict situations is noteworthy. Will it advance or challenge sustainable forms of accountability? Nepal offers the latest but not last testing ground for debating the politics and ethics of linking universal jurisdiction to post-atrocity justice.