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Criminal law in a transnational context

Notwithstanding the unique nature of the States' role in this field, there have always been trans-state, or extra-state, entities enjoying certain kinds of (more or less defective) jurisdiction in criminal matters. The social and political changes of the last twenty years have confirmed that the ius puniendi does not belong exclusively to the sovereign State. At the international level, several international criminal courts have been created and assigned with the task of applying international criminal law. The Security Council itself has passed resolutions that limit the penal jurisdiction of the States. At the regional level, the European Union has progressively taken on powers of quasi-prescriptive jurisdiction. Therefore, the traditional association between jurisdiction in criminal matters and sovereignty cannot account fully for the legitimacy of trans-state punitive powers, which calls for new theoretical schemes. However, even there where the right to punish is not a direct derivation of State powers, the State is nonetheless present, albeit acting in a different mode.