Subject: [fem-women2000 128] ICC- Urgent Action Alert (fwd)
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000 15:04:49 +0900
Seq: 128

---------------- Original message follows ----------------
 From: Megan Burke <>
 Date: Tue, 07 Dec 1999 07:40:41 -0800
 Subject: ICC- Urgent Action Alert


1 December 1999:

The Women's Caucus for Gender Justice urgently needs your assistance with
the International Criminal Court (ICC) negotiations currently under way at
UN Headquarters in New York.

We are faced with major obstacles at this PrepCom as several countries are
putting forth papers and positions which define many of the crimes against
humanity in very limiting ways that do not take into account the realities
of women in the situations likely to come before the Court.

The negotiations at this PrepCom which began on Monday, November 29, and
will continue through December 17, will focus on the definitions of crimes
against humanity. In the past PrepComs, the definitions of war crimes were
negotiated and included crimes of sexual violence. The negotiations
produced definitions of these crimes that were satisfactory in some
respects and very unsatisfactory in others.

The U.S. presented their paper on elements of crimes against humanity (Art.
7 of the ICC statute) in the past PrepComs which still stands as a basis.
Canada and Germany have submitted their proposals in the current PrepCom
seek to be an alternative to the US paper, but do not  measurably improve
the situation.  While this paper attempts to ensure consistency with the
elements of war crimes as negotiated in the last PrepCom, we believe that
the exercise of identifying elements of crimes against humanity has already
been accomplished in the ICC statute and that there is no need to elaborate
on these crimes in the elements.

** The Women's Caucus therefore urges the delegations to respect  the ICC
statute by adhering to the letter and spirit of the definitions of most of
the crimes against humanity as elaborated in Art.7(2).  The elements as
contained in the Canadian/German proposals define many of the crimes in
restrictive ways which would prevent the Court from being able to fully
address the range of violence and violations to which women are commonly

In addition, the Arab League will be submitting a proposal on the elements
of crimes against humanity which in essence takes a position that certain
crimes recognized as crimes against humanity in Art. 7(2) of the statute
such as the general crimes of enslavement and confinement, and the crimes
of sexual violence of rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, enforced
prostitution and other forms of sexual violence will not apply when these
crimes are committed within the realm of family or if practiced as a matter
of religious or cultural norms.

Such restrictions and limitations will clearly affect the ability of the
Court to prosecute violations of women's human rights, particularly crimes
of gender and sexual violence as these often take place within the realm of
family when committed in times of "peace." The best example is that it will
put the current Afghanistan situation out of the ICC's jurisdiction.

** The Women's Caucus strongly urges delegations to resist any such move
for their success will result in loss of many gains that were made in the
ICC statute to obtain redress for violence against women.

The Women's Caucus is also concerned that the U.S may be attempting to have
a provision in the elements that exempt 'peace-keeping' forces from being
prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

There are also other key matters of procedure and structure: (1) The
existing rule in the ad hoc Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda prohibiting
prior sexual conduct should be adopted. (2) The rules should recognize
harassment and discrimination as misconduct and provide for the positive
measures to ensure that the personnel of the Court correctly represent
geographical diversity, men and women and gender experts which are
identified in the statute.

** We ask that you contact your foreign and justice ministers and urge them
to support gender issues and to oppose the attempts by any country to limit
the Court's ability to fully respond redress the crimes committed against
women, which rightfully belong before the Court.

A draft of a letter is attached below. Please fax or e-mail a copy of your
letters to us at 212-949-7996 or Please also email copies
of your letters to the email address of your mission, which is pasted below.

Dear     ,

We are writing this letter because of our concerns regarding some
developments at the UN negotiations of the Preparatory Commission (PrepCom)
regarding the International Criminal Court which is currently meeting at
the UN in New York.

One major issue concerns the definitions or "elements" of crimes against
humanity.  Several countries are putting forth positions which define many
of the crimes against humanity in very limiting ways and which are likely
to prevent the Court from being able to fully address the range of violence
and violations to which women are commonly subjected.

On the one hand, the U.S. and Canada/Germany have submitted papers which
define many of the crimes against humanity in restrictive ways.  These
crimes are already defined in art. 7(2) of the Rome Statute and these
definitions should be simply converted into elements of crimes rather than
elaborated upon. These proposals improperly include limitations or
potentially limiting language-such as for enslavement, extermination,
sexual slavery, and other sexual violence--which do not appear in the Rome

On the other hand, the Arab League countries have circulated a paper that
would exclude crimes such as enslavement, confinement and the full range of
sexual violence crimes when these crimes are committed within the realm of
family or if the violence is practiced as a matter of religious or cultural
norms. Any such attempt is wholly unacceptable as it would violate Rome and
international law and must be met with firm rejection.

We urge you to do the following:

1. Oppose attempts by any country including the Arab League to prevent the
Court from redressing violence against women and other violations of
women's human rights by restricting its jurisdiction from areas of family
concern.  Any such restrictions would be in violation of the Rome Statute
which created the ICC and  international human rights law, and are
completely unacceptable.

2. Support articulation of the  elements of crimes against humanity based
on the definitions contained in art. 7(2) of the Rome Statute and without
embellishment.  For example,

キ Enslavement and sexual slavery elements should be based on the
definitions already contained in article 7(2) of the Rome Statute which
states the essential element-that enslavement is the exercise of the power
of ownership over another person.   This has meaning in international law
and would encompass the range of situations that amount to enslavement,
reflect the true nature of the crime. The definitions of these crimes
should not be limited to a few specific instances or types of
enslavement/sexual slavery, such as purchasing or selling or forced labor.

キ Extermination should also follow the Rome statute and not become a
replica of genocide.

キ "Other sexual violence" crimes need to encompass all sex crimes of
>comparable gravity to the other non-sex-specific crimes within the statute.
 Otherwise, the Elements Annex will discriminate against crimes of sexual
violence by setting a higher threshold for these crimes.  The current
proposal suggests that |"other sexual violence" must be of comparable
gravity to "rape, sexual slavery" etc.   This is also inconsistent with the
war crimes text.

3. Oppose any efforts to exempt peacekeeping forces from the Court's
jurisdiction by making exceptions for such personnel or forces in the
definitions of crimes or under the guise of immunities.  This runs contrary
to the very important recent initiatives of the Secretary-General to make
the peacekeepers subject to humanitarian law.  We already know what happens
when they are permitted impunity.

4. Support the rule prohibiting the sexual conduct of the victim from being
admitted into evidence as it is irrelevant and discriminatory and has
historically been used to shame the victim of sexual violence and call into
question her credibility. The ICTY and ICTR Rules prohibited such evidence
altogether; it's essential to incorporate their rule and rid judicial
inquiries of this severe, unfair and unwarranted invasion of women's privacy

Return to Index
Return to fem-women2000 HOME