Nick Wiley

Volume 74, Issue 4, 1251-1280

Since the turn of the century, there has been an exponential rise in forcibly displaced persons and human rights violations. This rise has coincided with a series of acts that have removed the United States as a global leader in the fight for human rights. When President Biden took office, he stated his goal of returning the United States to being the global moral authority leader. To achieve this goal, the Biden Administration implemented a plan to address the human rights violations in Central America that are driving forcibly displaced persons to the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum. The plan, however, focuses on governance and development efforts in the region. While these efforts are important, this approach has proven ineffective time after time in the past.

This Note explains why the Biden Administration should add prosecuting human rights violators domestically as a primary focus. It presents Germany’s use of universal jurisdiction and a war crimes unit that carries out structural investigations as a blueprint that the United States should copy. It also acknowledges the unprecedented levels of polarization in U.S. politics and the various viewpoints on sovereignty and immigration that conflict with the notion of universal jurisdiction. Thus, it presents impact jurisdiction as a more realistic alternative that caters to all political viewpoints coupled with a war crimes unit that carries out structural investigations.