The under-representation of women affects virtually all international tribunals and monitoring or adjudicating bodies that play key roles in developing international law, human rights, international relations, and cooperation. For example, as of September 2015 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has no female judges; the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has 17 permanent judges and only 2 are women; the Human Rights Committee has 18 members and only 5 are women. Moreover, a study of the numbers shows that this current imbalance has affected most of these international bodies since their establishment. For example, of the 40 individuals who have held positions within the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea since its inception, only 1 has been a woman; and of the 52 Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, 19 have never been held by a woman, including 11 that have been held by more than one mandate-holder.
International bodies make important decisions for societies, including issues of security and peace, international boundaries, environmental protection, and the scope of human rights. Shouldn’t these institutions that impart justice and promote international cooperation be examples of fairness and equal representation?
We believe that they should be. The under-representation of women, who make up more than half of humanity, and a lack of diversity diminishes the legitimacy of international human rights tribunals and monitoring bodies and limits their potential and impact. We also believe that a critical mass of women can add different perspectives and experiences to make visible and help address issues that may otherwise be absent or overlooked. Above all, GQUAL promotes parity in these spaces as a measure of equality.
Changing the composition of international tribunals and monitoring bodies to reflect diversity and equal representation is possible. GQUAL reviewed a total of 84 international bodies, which resulted in a total of 574 positions. A measure of GQUALity will be creating the conditions, procedures, and mechanism that can ensure that 287 qualified women from different parts of the world and with diverse backgrounds are elected.
It is unlikely, however, that the imbalance in the composition of these bodies will correct itself overtime. The study we conducted reveals that the under-representation of women has affected most of these bodies since their establishment, and that it is not necessarily improving. Most international bodies that have achieved equal representation at some point in time, have experienced regressions and have not been able to sustain the balance. It is also unlikely that awareness and publicity of the issue will be sufficient. That is why we think a campaign is necessary.
We believe that achieving change in the composition of these bodies requires concerted and strategic actions from a variety of global, regional, and national actors, including civil society, academia, public official and government representatives, and the international institutions themselves.
As a global campaign open to all, we want GQUAL to become a platform, space, and network for the exchange of ideas, actions and engagements across these sectors to affect change.
GQUAL seeks to study nomination and election procedures and implement differentiated strategies with the objective of including gender parity as a consideration and goal within them. This will also require taking into account the many differences between each State that takes part in the nomination process, and the many different procedures established for each international body.
Over the next five years, the campaign will deploy three key strategies to promote parity in international bodies. GQUAL will:
1. Work with a number of States from different regions to adopt pledges to nominate and vote for international positions in parity.
2. Work with international tribunals and bodies and the international organizations that host them to promote the development of legal standards, guidelines, and mechanisms that incorporate gender parity as a criteria and objective of selections procedures, and make them more transparent and participatory
3. Create an engaged and active network to coordinate, strengthen and globalize the campaign’s actions through coordinated research, advocacy and communications.
You can also read about GQUAL´s main strategies, as established in the GQUAL Declaration, by clicking here.
You can also read the campaign´s concept paper for more information.
1. GQUAL Information: making Information available and promoting more transparent procedures.
GQUAL raises awareness about the lack of women’s representation in international tribunal and other monitoring bodies
Through our Gqual Jobs Board, we monitor the composition of international bodies and publicize information and alert our network on the positions that are open or about to become available and on the respective nomination and voting process.
GQUAL also aims to work with States and International organizations to develop more transparent nomination and selection processes.
2. GQUAL Guidelines and Mechanisms:
The campaign seeks to open spaces for the exchange and discussions of best practices and experiences in selection processes and to engage with States, the international tribunals and monitoring bodies, and the international organizations that host them to develop guidelines and mechanisms that can promote women´s equal representation
3. GQUAL Rights and Standards:
The campaign promotes the study of the under-representation of women in international bodies from the perspective of the law of human rights and will engage with international bodies to develop a better understanding of this implication.
4. GQUAL Pledges:
The campaign works with Governments to get States to pledge to nominate and vote candidates in a manner compliant with gender parity.
5. GQUAL Network:
Create connections, communication and links between GQUAL supporters.