New Crimes Against Humanity Treaty

In the 1990s, MADRE housed the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice coalition to address gender gaps in the draft Rome Statute – an international treaty that defined international crimes like “crimes against humanity” and created the International Criminal Court with jurisdiction over those crimes.

The coalition succeeded in winning recognition of sexual violence as a violation of international law. This stands as one of the great advances of the global women’s movement. We also succeeded in exchanging the word “gender” for “sex” in the Rome Statute, which remains a key safeguard for gender justice under international criminal law.

In 2017, the United Nations International Law Commission began drafting an international treaty specifically for preventing and punishing crimes against humanity. However, the treaty included an opaque definition of gender, leaving women and LGBTQIA+ people of all genders vulnerable and potentially sidelined from justice. MADRE mobilized nearly 600 organizations and academics representing over 100 countries or territories to call for the definition to be removed.

We built a global, cross-movement advocacy effort and served as a bridge to advocate successfully with policymakers. Ultimately, a majority of States focused on gender justice in the treaty affirmed that the rights of women and LGBTQIA+ persons of all genders are protected under international criminal law and that the pending treaty must reflect this principle.

A young woman on Playa Bocana in Puerto Cabeza

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