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


Northumbria University

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Click here to download the conference poster

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.

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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.

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Speakers’ Presentations are now available to watch:













Sir Howard Morrison QC, Former Appeals Judge, ICC, UK

Ms Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Its Causes and Consequences, Jordan

Justice Adel Maged, Vice-President at the Egyptian Court of Cassation, Egypt

Ms Akila Radhakrishnan, President of Global Justice Centre, US

Professor Mohamed Badar, Northumbria University, UK (Conference Director)

Professor Javaid Rehman, Brunel University, UK

Ms Niamh Hayes, Gender & Childern Unit, OTP, ICC

Professor William Schabas OC, Middlesex University, UK, Canada

Professor Michael Bohlander, Durham University, UK, Germany

Dr Polona Florijančič, Legal Researcher, UK, Slovenia

Professor Caroline Fournet, University of Exeter, UK, France

Dr Matthew Gillett, University of Essex, UK

Dr Dawn Sedman, Nottingham Trent University, UK

Dr Nora Salem, German University in Cairo, Egypt, Germany

Ms Susann Aboueldahab, PhD Candidate, University of Göttingen, Germany

Mr Nicholas Leddy,OTP, ICC, The Hague

Ms Léa Réus, Human Rights Consultant, US

Ms Marialejandra M Mantilla, Nuremberg Principles Academy, Germany

Ms Shamiso Mbizvo, International Cooperation Advisor, OTP, ICC

Dr Sheri Labenski, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Ms Stephanie Herrmann, International Human Rights Lawyer, US

Ms Sara Elizabeth Dill, Partner, Anethum Global; Arab Region LiaisonOfficer, International Bar Association War Crimes Committee, US

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