The last two decades of international law have clarified that women's rights and LGBTIQ rights are human rights, making the gender definition contained in the Rome Statute opaque.
Strong convention language that complies with existing human rights law would be an invaluable tool for confronting impunity and enhancing state efforts to prevent and punish gender-based crimes. However, a text that does not understand gender could sideline women and other marginalized victims and result in even greater impunity for gender-based crimes amounting to crimes against humanity.
In November 2017, advocates filed a petition—the first of its kind—to the International Criminal Court. Filed jointly by CUNY Law School, MADRE and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), with help from the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton and OutRight Action International, the petition argues that the international community should prosecute ISIS fighters for crimes committed on the basis of gender, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
This is the first time the world has seen this kind of robust documentation of crimes against women and LGBTIQ persons for transgressing gender norms during an armed conflict. The draft CAH treaty offers a new opportunity to hold perpetrators of gender-based crimes accountable. To learn more about the ICC petition, watch the event held at CUNY Law School just before the petition was submitted: Prosecuting ISIS Crimes against Women and LGBTIQ Persons.
The draft crimes against humanity (CAH) treaty was completed by the International Law Commission and has been preliminarily reviewed by the UN General Assembly’s 6th Committee.
It has now been transmitted to governments, international organizations and others for comments and observations, with the request that such comments and observations be submitted to the UN Secretary-General by December 1, 2018. To view the current CAH draft treaty, click here.
Sign our petition calling on the International Law Commission to update the definition of gender and ensure everyone's rights are protected, including women and LGBTIQ persons. The petition will be coming out soon. To stay involved and receive a copy of the petition, click here.
You can also write your own submission for the International Law Commission. All submissions should be addressed to the UN Legal Counsel and sent by email to the Director of the UN Codification Division, Mr. Huw Llewellyn by December 1, 2018 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is critical that civil society weighs in on the development of the new CAH treaty. You can help by sharing this toolkit and encouraging others to make their voices heard.
For more detailed information on how gender includes women and LGBTIQ rights under the Rome Statute, click here.