Jus Cogens Law and Legal Definition

Latin meaning "compelling law." This "higher law" must be followed by all countries. For example, genocide or slave trade may be considered to go against jus cogens, due to peremptory norms. The 1986 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties affirmed jus cogens as an accepted doctrine in international law.

States have used the concept of jus cogens in their efforts to achieve reforms in the existing law and international legal order. In international criminal law, jus cogens refers to the legal duties that arise in connection with high profile crimes, including the duty to prosecute or extradite, the non-applicability of statutes of limitations, the non-applicability of any immunities up to and including Heads of State, the non-applicability of the defense of "obedience to superior orders", and universal jurisdiction over perpetrators of such crimes.