“I’ve never had to do this before,” said one delegate to me – “specifically vote for a male candidate”. Because of the arcane rules for how judges are elected for the ICC, in the first couple of rounds a male candidate had to be selected.
In the end, after 22 – yes, 22 rounds of voting – all six candidates were selected. And all the new judges at the ICC are men. The last – the Hungarian judge – definitely had something that very few women judges could compete with – a moustache.
Such a clean sweep along gender lines got me thinking: does gender really matter at the ICC? We have a new prosecutor – a woman – but the registrar, the president of the court and of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) are all men.
Nearly every state mentioned sexual and gender-based crimes (SGBV) when they made their statement to the assembly. SGBV is definitely the new buzz term in international fora. You can’t afford to go against the likes of Angelina Jolie in your efforts to support prosecution of these crimes when they occur in the context of conflict.
But one organization has been consistent in its championing of this issue – the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice.
Their annual scorecard for the court has changed from a 16-page booklet to a 284-page “encyclopedia” as their head, Brigid Inder told a packed evening launch party.
What’s interesting is how they subject the ICC to the strict lens of gender justice. For instance:
- 46% of the applicants for individuals who want to be recognized as victims were from females in 2014 – an increase of 8%.
- In 2013 ,more than half of the “overall charges for sexual and gender-based violence sought by the OTP” were dismissed before trial. But “this year all charges have successfully progressed to the trial stage”.
They are also very pleased that the ICC is the first international court or tribunal to have a prosecution policy on sexual and gender-based crimes.
Brigid chaired a session at which Fatou Bensouda explained her real commitment to implement that policy.
Inder plays an interesting inside-outside role: she’s head of an NGO that lobbies the ICC. But she’s also the prosecutor’s special adviser on these issues.
What I wonder though is how deep the commitment of the states really is to this area. In the end they voted in six male judges to the ICC, even though after the first rounds they weren’t required to do so. How much attention will these men pay to the issues of sexual violence in conflict?