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The Policy Paper on Gender Persecution

A Groundbreaking Moment for Gender Justice

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has published its new Policy Paper on the crime against humanity of gender persecution – a groundbreaking moment for gender justice. The Policy Paper strengthens recognition of gender persecution in investigations and legal proceedings, reaffirms the understanding of gender in international criminal law, and provides clarity on a topic overlooked for too long. This moment reaffirms – once and for all – that targeting women and LGBTIQ+ persons in peacetime and conflict can amount to a crime against humanity, and that survivors of these crimes cannot be silenced.

The Policy Paper provides a powerful tool for women’s and LGBTIQ+ rights activists as they work to dismantle oppressive, discriminatory gender narratives and build sustainable peace. Gender persecution is a category of crime within international criminal law that includes grave crimes such as murder and torture and, importantly, recognizes a perpetrator’s intent to discriminate against a group based on their gender. The crime of gender persecution is the only legal charge under international criminal law that can be used to holistically hold gender-based crimes accountable, apart from sexual violence. With a better understanding of the forms of gender persecution and the discrimination that underlies these crimes, we can strengthen work to support victims and end cycles of gender-based violence in communities across the globe. This Policy Paper represents a crucial step in that process.

Building on our long history of fighting for accountability for gender-based crimes within international law frameworks, MADRE and our partners facilitated input from nearly 400 organizations and 150 activists from over 100 countries and territories, including an open letter that compiled perspectives from over 220 organizations from 80 countries and territories. Governments, UN Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts, UN agencies, legal scholars, and other civil society movements also shared input with the Office of the Prosecutor, leading to a truly expansive consultation process with global reach. Submissions also included a contribution from 84 Afghan women and Afghan civil society members, 10 Iraqi civil society organizations, and our partner the International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI). A number of other academic institutions, feminist legal scholars, and organizations with which we work made their own contributions, such as OutRight Action International and our local partner in Colombia, Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN).

To read more about MADRE's work to include civil society voices in the new policy paper, read our timeline of events chronicling the development of the Policy Paper.