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Exact details on PRIMUS/UNTIL Jurisdiction

cybersoldier1981cybersoldier1981 Posts: 2,501 Arc User
So I have encountered a bit of a 'problem'.

Well, not so much a 'problem'. Just sort of someone and I having a bit of a debate.

My character is authorized by PRIMUS to engage and apprehend (and as a last resort, terminate) rogue superhumans that are deemed a danger to life and liberty.

I've encountered someone who insists that UNTIL has 'higher authority' than PRIMUS, and instead is 'more authorized' to arrest a certain rogue superhuman.

Granted, the superhuman is in the continental United States and is not wanted abroad to my knowledge, or the players' knowledge.

However, it seems a bit strange that a foreign-governed body under the UN has a higher arrest authority than any US Government Organization when not in a time of crisis.

Someone wanna give me some idea here?
Post edited by cybersoldier1981 on


  • bulgarexbulgarex Posts: 2,092 Arc User
    edited April 2014
    Well, I broke out my copy of UNTIL: Defenders Of Freedom to do a little research. While what I've found may not be as cut-and-dried as you might like, I may be able to offer a bit of guidance.

    The United States is signatory to what's commonly called "the Tribunal Treaty," which "gives UNTIL the ability to operate without other restrictions [i.e. as per its charter] in any signatory state or international territory" (p. 46). No more details about the treaty are given. UNTIL agents have "International Police Powers," a (fictional) authority to arrest anyone committing a crime in any signatory state (i.e. nation), although the definition of "crime" has to match the laws of said state.

    However, the book also spells out quite a bit of international law, under which a sovereign state is considered to have primary jurisdiction over: anything that happens in its own territory; persons or things of its nationality anywhere in the world (including corporations and vehicles); protection against acts which threaten its existence or proper functioning, including internationally (such as counterfeiting currency); and to legislate against activities universally condemned, such as genocide (pp. 24-25). From this I would derive that in a case of dispute over jurisdiction, PRIMUS as an arm of the American Department of Justice would, strictly speaking, have authority to arrest a suspect on its own soil over UNTIL. The concept of "jurisdiction" is rather vague, though -- probably deliberately so.

    However, U:DOF underlines that UNTIL goes to great lengths to avoid or diffuse such disputes. It maintains an Ambassadorial Corps with ambassadors and staff to all signatory nations, as well as liaisons with major law enforcement agencies. Whenever time and circumstances allow it notifies appropriate law enforcement and governments before taking action on their territory, and coordinates its activities with them.

    "Currently, UNTIL-U.S. relations range from coolly cordial to extremely friendly, depending on the personnel involved and the situation." (p. 47) Page 46 also describes UNTIL and PRIMUS as "friendly rivals." To me this implies that conflicts such as you describe likely do happen in the field from time to time; but if they do, the situation would almost certainly be referred to representatives of the higher-ups of both organizations for resolution. Neither party would desire a diplomatic incident. I should also add that even if the criminal is wanted in another country, the nation where the criminal is arrested would have to go through an extradition process to send him to that country -- assuming the two states have an extradition treaty.

    If I was role-playing your situation, I would suggest detaining the criminal under joint PRIMUS-UNTIL custody until the dispute can be resolved diplomatically. I don't think the bosses of either of your characters would be happy if you came to blows over it. But if it has to be settled between you two immediately, it certainly sounds like PRIMUS wins out in this particular situation.

    EDIT: BTW as per the PnP book, an agent of UNTIL is supposed to have a Knowledge Skill: International Law. Your associate may have failed his Skill Roll. :wink:
  • jonsillsjonsills Posts: 6,314 Arc User
    edited April 2014
    bulgarex wrote: »
    BTW as per the PnP book, an agent of UNTIL is supposed to have a Knowledge Skill: International Law. Your associate may have failed his Skill Roll. :wink:
    Yeah, sometimes no matter how many dice you pump into it, you come up all ones...
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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