Skip navigation

Adjudicating Gender-Based Persecution At The ICC & Beyond: A Monumental Step And The Challenges That Lie Ahead


Northumbria University

Call for Abstracts

Historically speaking, gender has not been viewedas a relevant category of persecution in international criminal law, whereas victimisation on the basis of race, religion, politics, nationality and ethnicity has long been considered relevant. This was also the case with persecution, a fundamental crime against humanity. In the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), however, ‘gender’ was included among the list of relevant grounds. This was a monumental step forward for the recognition of the plethora of ways in which women and men are targeted in the context of widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations.

Despite this, until late 2019, no suspect had been charged for persecution based on gender but rather on other grounds only. What are the main causes of this significant lacuna and how are we to overcome challenges in the future to ensure adequate recognition of these crimes, their successful prosecution and a victim-sensitive approach to the collection of evidence?

Taking ground-breaking steps forward, the ICC Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda, has begun to break with the neglect of gender-based persecution (GBP) at the Court, in her recent investigations into the situation in Afghanistan (murder of femalepoliticians and intimidation of female studentsas GBP), the preliminary examination in Nigeria (abduction of female schoolgirls and use of female suicide bombersas GBP), and the charges against Al Hassan (sexual and non-sexual oppression of femalesas GBP).

The, Al Hassan trial is the first time chargeshave been confirmedby the ICC Pre-Trial Chamberfor GBP on the grounds that women and girls were targeted for sexist reasons and subjected to the ideological, religious and discriminatory views of women by the members of Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which reduced them to objects in the society of which they were a part.

It is important to note, however, that in the context of conflict, gender-based victimization is not limited to women. The targeting of men and boys is not uncommon and both genders can be targeted for their perceived social roles in different ways.

This hybrid conference (in-person and virtual) is generously funded by the Modern Law Review (MLR). There will accordingly be no registration fee and the MLR has the right of first refusal for papers presented at the conference.

Confirmed speakers include Professor Azizah al-Hibri (founder and chair, KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights), Sara Elizabeth Dill (International Human Rights Attorney& Partner at AnethumGlobal), Judge Sir Howard Morrison QC (Judge, International Criminal Court, The Hague), Judge Michael Bohlander (Durham Law School / UN Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia & Kosovo Specialist Chambers), Mr. Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC (Assistant Secretary-General, Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team, United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD)), Dr Rosemary Grey (University of Sydney Postdoctoral Fellow, Sydney Law School / Sydney Southeast Asia Centre), Professor William A. Schabas OC (Professor of International Law, Middlesex University), Dr. Nora Salem (Assistant Professor for Public International Law and Head of the International Law Department at the German University in Cairo (GUC), Faculty of Law and Legal Studies, Egypt), Dr. Yassin Brunger (School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast), Prof Caroline Fournet (University of Groningen, The Netherlands), Professor Javaid Rehman (Brunel University, London and UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran), Ms Dato’ Shyamala Alagendra Khan (Gender and Child Rights Advisor, Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM)).


We welcome up to 500-word abstracts on topics related to the crime of gender-based persecution including but not limited to:

  • the travaux préparatoires surrounding the inclusion of gender-based persecution as a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute of the ICC and the ground-breaking recent decision of the ICC on the Confirmation of Charges in Prosecutor v. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud;
  • the importance of the recognition of the crime of persecution on the basis of gender in addition to already recognised crimes against humanity based on gender, such as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence when committed in a widespread or systematic way;
  • the implications of this approach for the advancement of the goals enshrined in the international legal system of women’s rights globally;
  • the implications for societies with rigid gender roles that may amount to systematic discrimination against women and a violation of their human rights;
  • the advancement of the law in terms of recognising gender-based hate crimes in the UK, including hate speech based on gender and the cross-fertilization of approaches between domestic and international criminal law;
  • legal, cultural and practical challenges in preventing and prosecuting gender-based violence in the UK or committed against UK citizens abroad, including human-trafficking, honour-based abuse, female genital mutilation, breast ironing, forced marriages, domestic abuse, coercive control, economic control, or any other gender-based violence.
  • gender based aspects to genocide prevention and prosecution.
  • providing trauma treatment to war crimes survivors as part of a prosecution and investigation strategy. 

Abstracts of maximum 500 words should be sent by 5 April 2021 to Professor Mohamed Badar at s pecifying (author), current affiliation, along with a CV (maximum 2 pages). 

After a review of the abstracts by end of April, the organisers will invite selected authors to prepare full manuscripts of no more than 12,000 words (excluding footnotes) by 6 September 2021.

All selected authors will be invited to present working drafts, if not in-person then virtually, at a two-day conference to be provisionally held at Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom on 22 & 23 July 2021.

Key Information:

All selected authors will be invited to present working drafts, if not in-person then remotely, at a two-day conference to be provisionally held at Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom.

The anticipated timeline are as follows: 

  • Deadline for submission of abstracts – 5 April 2021
  • Abstract selection and invitation to submit full papers – 23 April 2021
  • Conference – 22-23 July 2021 (tbc)
  • Submission of full papers – 30 September 2021

More details on the conference and registration in due course:


Event Details

Northumbria University
The Great Hall
Sutherland Building
Newcastle upon Tyne


a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

a person sitting at a table

Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

India - we stand with you

As the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt across the globe, at Northumbria we want to…

Back to top