Prosecuting International Crimes in South Africa: The Southern African Litigation Centre Case, Universal Jurisdiction, and Civil Society

Event date: 
26 Mar 2015
1:00pm to 2:00pm
Staff common room, level 2, UNSW Law
South Africa
Dr Hannah Woolaver
Senior Lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Cape Town
Any questions? Contact us on 9385 1803.

South Africa was the first African State to domesticate the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, more than ten years ago. In the time since the passage of the domesticating legislation, numerous applications have been brought to initiate prosecutions over international crimes committed abroad in South African courts. In the recent landmark decision of the Constitutional Court in the Southern African Litigation Centre v National Director of Public Prosecutions case, the Court asserted that South African authorities bear an obligation to exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This decision has established South Africa as a possible venue for the prosecution of international crimes committed in South Africa, other African States, and around the world. In this presentation, Dr. Woolaver will analyse the judgment of the Constitutional Court, setting out the factual and legislative context of the decision and clarifying the scope of universal jurisdiction over international crimes in South Africa. The presentation will seek to assess the legal and political possibilities for and barriers to the exercise of universal jurisdiction in South African courts. 


Hannah Woolaver is a Senior Lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Cape Town. She teaches public international law and international criminal law at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and also supervises postgraduate research in these areas.