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Letter Urging Gender Justice Approach to Draft Crimes against Humanity Treaty

SAHR supports the Global Justice Center joint efforts to integrate a gendered approach to a draft international treaty on preventing and punishing crimes against humanity

A new treaty on crimes against humanity is being considered at the United Nations, to adopt a gender-progressive, intersectional, and survivor-centered approach to the draft treaty and to fight against impunity for sexual and gender-based violence crimes around the world.

Crimes against humanity:

  1. Committed against a civilian population

  2. Must be part of a widespread or systematic attack

Murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; illegal imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty; torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; persecution; enforced disappearance; the crime of apartheid; and other inhumane acts.

Advancing Gender Justice in the Draft International Crimes Against Humanity Treaty

The treaty would deliver tangible benefits for victims and survivors:

  • Improving the reproductive violence provisions by revising the definition of sexual violence to include reproductive violence, eliminating the unnecessary caveat in the definition of forced pregnancy that provides an exception for national abortion laws, and using gender-inclusive language in the definition of forced pregnancy

  • Including the slave trade as an enumerated provision

  • Codifying gender apartheid as an international crime by adding gender as a basis for the crime of humanity of apartheid, in direct response to calls from women’s civil society

  • Including forced marriage as a specifically enumerated crime against humanity and adopting a clear definition rooted in the significant international case law to date, to reflect the development of international criminal law on this offence

  • Ensuring provisions on victim/survivor participation and rights are robust, including a broad and unambiguous definition of ‘victim’ and expanding reparations provisions, and reflect input from affected communities.

Civil society can encourage and support states to meaningfully participate in the resumed sessions and demonstrate their commitment to the advancement of the Draft Articles, and provide suggestions and options to states to strengthen the ILC’s draft.

SAHR leads and facilitates joint advocacy with other women and diverse leaders in policy, to shape international standards and norms on SGBV and access to justice.


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