Coalition for the International Criminal Court
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Gender and the ICC
Gender and the ICC
Silvana Arbia, Registrar of the ICC, and Kristin Kalla, Senior Programme Officer of the Trust Fund for Victims, with Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice Executive Director Brigid Inder at the Launch of the Gender Report Card 2009. Credit: Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
The Rome Statute is the first international treaty to identify crimes against women as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and in some instances, genocide. Non-governmental organizations—including members of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court —were at the forefront of ensuring that the Rome Statute thoroughly safeguarded women’s rights.

The Statute recognizes rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced sterilizations, gender-based persecutions, trafficking of persons particularly of women and children, and sexual violence as crimes under its jurisdiction.

Here are some of the provisions included in the Statute:

Procedural Protections for Victims and Witnesses

Women victims and witnesses before the ICC can expect procedures designed to address their needs. The ICC Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence (Rules) offer important protections for victims and witnesses, particularly those who suffered sexual or gender violence.

  • The Court is required to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity, and privacy of victims and witnesses, with special regard to factors such as their gender and whether the crime involved sexual or gender violence.

  • The Statute and Rules also establish a Victims and Witnesses Unit to provide protection, security, counseling, and other assistance.

  • The Court can institute measures to protect victims and witnesses during trials and pre-trial proceedings.

  • The Court is also required to be vigilant in controlling the questioning of witnesses to avoid harassment or intimidation, especially in sexual violence cases.

  • Rules of Evidence to Protect Victims of Sexual Violence

    The Rules are designed to shield victims of sexual violence from damaging or intrusive attacks on their sexuality or credibility.
  • The Court cannot admit evidence of a victim or witness's prior or subsequent sexual conduct or require corroboration of testimony concerning sexual violence.

  • The Rules outline principles to guide the Court in handling sexual violence cases, making clear that a victim's consent cannot be inferred where the perpetrator took advantage of a coercive environment (such as a detention center), and requiring special procedures for presenting evidence of consent to acts of sexual violence.

  • Staff Expertise on Gender and Sexual Violence

  • The Statute requires that the ICC prosecutor appoint advisers with legal expertise on sexual and gender violence and that the Victims and Witnesses Unit, to be housed within the ICC registry, include staff with experience in trauma related to sex crimes.

  • The Statute also requires states, in electing judges, to take into account the need for "fair representation" of female and male judges, and requires that the prosecutor and registrar do the same when hiring staff.

  • Victims’ Participation in the Proceedings

    The ICC Statute and Rules facilitate victims' direct participation in the Court's proceedings. Victims can express their views, in accordance with the Statute and the Rules, giving them a chance to tell their stories even if they are not called as witnesses. This will allow individual women's voices, sometimes overlooked in international prosecutions, to emerge.

    Useful links

    UN Women Facebook page

    International Women’s Day website and Facebook page

    For more information on this issue, please contact Alix Vuillemin Grendel.
    NGO Media Statements
    Author Date and Title
    Human Rights Watch
    14 Apr 2015
    UN: Sexual Violence a ‘Tactic of War’
    Amnesty International
    08 Mar 2015
    Global backlash against women’s rights is having devastating toll
    Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice
    08 Mar 2015
    Statement for International Women’s Day 2015
    06 Mar 2015
    Beijing +20: Broken promises, women’s rights under threat across the globe
    Amnesty International
    25 Nov 2014
    Campaign targets violence and discrimination against women and girls
    25 Nov 2014
    Ending Violence Against Women: Why Security Institutions Matter
    13 June 2014
    NPWJ calls for concrete action to end sexual and gender-based violence in conflict at Global Summit in London
    Related Websites
    Author Date and Title
    07 Mar 2007
    Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
    07 Mar 2007
    Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
    07 Mar 2007
    Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action
    07 Mar 2007
    Center for Women’s Global Leadership
    FIDA Kenya
    07 Mar 2007
    Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA Kenya)
    07 Mar 2007
    International Federation of Women in Legal Careers
    07 Mar 2007
    The Afghan Women's Mission
    UN Reports, Resolutions, and Statements
    Author Date and Title
    UN Women
    05 Mar 2012
    Message of Michelle Bachelet Executive Director of UN Women on International Women’s Day 2012
    Mission of Estonia to the United Nations
    23 Feb 2012
    Statement by H.E. Tiina Intelmann, Ambassador-at-Large for International Criminal Court, Republic of Estonia President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
    United Nations Security Council
    23 Feb 2012
    Statement by the President of the Security Council
    Jan 2008
    UNHCR Handbook for the Protection of Women and Girls
    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in cooperation with the UN Mission in S
    20 Aug 2007
    Eighth periodic report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in the Sudan: Women abducted, raped and kept as sex slaves following the December 2006 attacks on Deribat
    08 Mar 2007
    United Nations Secretary General Statement on IWD 2007
    08 Mar 2007
    Background Document on Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls