In conflicts across the globe, armed actors have perpetrated gender-based crimes against women, LGBTIQ, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons, but are hardly ever held accountable. As a result, these crimes are routinely excluded from tribunals and consequently left out of history. MADRE is working with accountability mechanisms to ensure recognition of gender persecution, the charge that would hold perpetrators of these crimes accountable but has never been charged in any tribunal.
To help close this gap, MADRE and the Human Rights and Gender Justice (HRGJ) Clinic at CUNY School of Law are building a toolkit on understanding, recognizing, and documenting gender persecution in conflict and atrocity settings. With input from international legal experts, this toolkit aims to provide a foundational understanding of gender persecution for all accountability mechanisms as well as tools for field and evidence identification of such crimes and their survivors and victims.
With support from UNWOMEN, MADRE and the HRGJ Clinic convened a virtual experts meeting to gather insights from international legal experts and feminist practitioners to discuss the potential impact and content of such a toolkit. The meeting began with a review of the elements of crimes against humanity, followed by an analysis of gender persecution as a specific crime against humanity. Following these foundational sessions, the experts then discussed how to recognize and examine gender-based crimes that may amount to gender persecution, what tools would be needed to document them, and how to ensure inclusion of intersection forms of persecution.
These in-depth discussions will directly inform the drafting of the toolkit, ensuring that it will be useful for legal experts as well as field-based practitioners investigating atrocities. The toolkit aims to support a robust increase in documentation of crimes that may amount to gender persecution, leading to greater accountability and a broader understanding of why these crimes took place. The toolkit will promote a survivor-centered approach (also known as a victim-centered approach) that recognizes a broader range of survivors and their rights to participate in peace and transitional justice mechanisms. In turn, this recognition would help build sustainable peace, disrupting the normalization of gender discrimination and violence institutionalized in existing law and practice.