Back to top

Strengthening Accountability for Gender Persecution:

A timeline of MADRE’s work to include civil society voices in the new Policy Paper on Gender Persecution

One entry-point for advancing accountability is the crime of gender persecution – the only legal charge under international criminal law that can be used to holistically hold gender-based crimes accountable, apart from sexual violence. The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is developing a new Policy Paper on Gender Persecution, aiming to strengthen recognition and promote accountability for the crime of gender persecution – a truly groundbreaking opportunity for clarity on a topic that has been overlooked for too long.

By better understanding how and when gender persecution occurs, we can strengthen accountability, meaningfully include survivors in building sustainable peace, and disrupt the cycle of gender-based violence. 

Building on our long history of fighting for accountability for gender-based crimes within international law frameworks, MADRE is serving as the secretariat for civil society’s contribution to the development of the Policy Paper. Below is the timeline of events chronicling our efforts to date.

December 2021 - Launch Event with ICC Prosecutor

In conjunction with the annual Assembly of State Parties, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor and the Embassy of Sweden in The Hague co-sponsored a virtual panel event to announce the development of the new policy paper on gender persecution. The Ambassador of Sweden to the Netherlands opened the event, followed by remarks from the ICC Prosecutor, Karim A. A. Khan, who shared the purpose of the initiative and his office’s firm support for advancing accountability for this crime. The panelists included four Special Advisors to the Prosecutor on the topics of: gender persecution, crimes against and affecting children, sexual violence in conflict, and slavery crimes, and was moderated by the Special Advisor on International Law Discourse. The speakers explored different forms of gender-driven discriminatory crimes across a range of geographic, cultural, and political contexts. MADRE spoke on the panel about the importance of civil society participation in the drafting of the policy paper, a top priority shared by the Office of the Prosecutor. Finally, the panel discussed next steps towards developing the policy paper and how comments may be submitted for the initial draft. Government representatives, legal experts, and civil society members from across the world attended the panel discussion, highlighting the global reach of this initiative and its impact.

Photo of the entrance of the International Criminal Court.
December 2021 - OutSummit Panel

At OutRight Action International’s annual OutSummit, MADRE brought together a panel of experts to discuss the new policy paper initiative and how LGBTIQ civil society groups could join the consultation process by writing their own submissions or by signing OutRight’s open letter. The panelists discussed various examples of crimes that may constitute gender persecution that affect LGBTIQ people, and the need to address and understand such crimes when they take place.

Logo for the OutSummit. Text reads: OutSummit. Pushing the Boundaries for Global LGBTIQ Activism.
March 16, 2022 - Commission on the Status of Women Side Event

On March 16, 2022, MADRE hosted a panel on the margins of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to discuss accountability for gender-based crimes, with a particular focus on gender persecution. The panelists discussed the legal charge of gender persecution and the different forms it can take in various contexts around the globe, focusing on Afghanistan and Colombia and LGBTIQ communities. The panelists also discussed the ICC policy paper initiative to advance accountability for gender persecution, how it could positively impact their work, and the crucial role civil society can play to inform the draft.

Thumbnail image for panel event — Fighting Against Impunity for Gender-Based Crimes: A Policy Paper on Gender Persecution
March 18, 2022 - First Consultation Submissions to the Office of the Prosecutor

Serving as the secretariat for civil society participation in the call for submissions, MADRE, along with our partners, facilitated submissions from nearly 400 organizations and 150 activists from over 100 countries and territories, as well as UN Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts, UN agencies and governments, for the first public consultation for the new policy initiative on gender persecution. These calls were then compiled into an open letter and submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor. Submissions 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 further made their own contributions, such as OutRight Action International and our local partner in Colombia, Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN).

New Delhi, India-Aug 24 2021: Afghan women shouting slogans, Afghans living in India gathered at UNHCR to protest and demanding to be given refugee status in India.
May 2022 - Experts Workshop in The Hague

In collaboration with UN Women, the Human Rights and Gender Justice (HRGJ) Clinic at CUNY School of Law, and the Grotius Center for International Legal Studies at Leiden Law School and MADRE convened international experts and scholars in The Hague to discuss current trends in the discourse gender-based crimes amounting to persecution. Serving in its role as civil society secretariat, MADRE brought together the group of experts to analyze the elements of gender persecution as provided by the Rome Statute, discuss the successes and challenges in determining gender persecution charges, and provide recommendations for the policy paper. This convening complements the input from civil society, governments, and experts submitted in the public consultation, and continues MADRE's facilitation of holistic input on the development of the policy paper.