Is there any legislator or legislature that has regarded its laws as being of universal application?

It is said in Wikipedia that the Emperor Qianlong was like this, and worked on the 'assumption of all nations of the earth as being subordinate to China', and that 'his final words commanding King George III to "...Tremblingly obey and show no negligence!" used the standard imperial sign off as if the king were a Chinese subject'. I am not sure if he really believed that his laws applied to King George, however.

If Qianlong is not an example, is there another one? Of course, I am not expecting there to be a legislator or legislature that expected as a matter of political fact that everyone would give obedience. It is just whether any had a legal system that, as a matter of pure law, accounted everybody in the world within its scope.

Thanks for any help anyone can give.

  • You mean 'ruler', not legislature, right?
    – user6726
    Sep 26, 2020 at 15:48
  • I meant legislature. But I am happy to take an example of a ruler if there isn't one of a legislature. Sep 26, 2020 at 16:22
  • How is an emperor a legislature?
    – user6726
    Sep 26, 2020 at 16:57
  • I'll take any law-making body, whether a single individual or a composite body. Sep 26, 2020 at 20:25
  • @user6726 I have edited the question to make clear that I'll take either, though, because you're right that it was a bit confusing as it stood. Thanks for pushing me to make the clarification! Sep 26, 2020 at 20:36

1 Answer 1


The United States of America. For example the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act attempted to prohibit non-US companies from doing business with those countries, and imposed penalties for non-compliant companies.

  • Thanks very much for this intriguing suggestion, Mike. As I read the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, however, it does not place a legal duty on any non-Americans. In fact, it seems to place a legal duty on only one person, the US President. And the nature of the duties imposed concern US activities: the Federal bank is not to lend to non-US companies that do business with Iran or Libya etc, Sep 26, 2020 at 13:36
  • Just to be clear, I know that many countries have one or two laws of universal jurisdiction (Universal jurisdiction), but what I am looking for is a jurisdiction all of whose laws, by default, apply to everyone. Sep 26, 2020 at 13:38
  • 2
    That act only applies to businesses with some legal connection to the US, e.g. 'sells stuff to the US'.
    – user6726
    Sep 26, 2020 at 15:46

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