Skip navigation

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


Northumbria University

Historically speaking, gender has not been viewed as 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 female politicians and intimidation of female students as GBP), the preliminary examination in Nigeria (abduction of female schoolgirls and use of female suicide bombers as GBP), and the charges against Al Hassan (sexual and non-sexual oppression of females as GBP).

The, Al Hassan trial is the first time charges have been confirmed by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber for 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 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), 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)), Dr. Polona Florijančič (Independent Researcher and Consultant, Slovenia/UK)

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

Back to top