Washington D.C. and The Hague, October 29th, 2020. – At its nineteenth session, taking place in December 2020, the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) will elect 6 new ICC judges (out of 18) to replace the judges whose terms will end in 2021. The current ICC bench is composed of 12 men and 6 women, keeping the lowest representation of women in the ICC’s history.
According to article 36(8)(a)(iii) of the Rome Statute, States Parties “shall, in the selection of judges, take into account the need, within the membership of the Court, for […] A fair representation of female and male judges”.
20 candidates have been nominated for this judicial election, 9 of which are women.
From the 6 judges leaving the Court 1 is a woman. For that reason, for this election there is a Minimum Voting Requirement (MVR) of only 1 female judge. It is important to recall that the MVR are instructions that States Parties must follow in filling out the ballots only during the first four rounds of voting in favor of candidates from areas that are underrepresented (geographically, as reflecting different legal systems, or based on gender). Thus, this system establishes a soft minimum quota that should be exceeded in this election.
In this regard, if States only elected 1 woman in the upcoming election, the composition of the Court would remain of 12 male judges and 6 female judges, resulting in a minimum 30% representation of female judges in the Court. That would perpetuate the current gender imbalance in the ICC bench.
For that reason, GQUAL calls for the election of at least 4 women judges, which would bring gender parity to the Court. Electing 4 or more women judges would show a greater commitment by the ASP with gender equality and would break the glass ceiling women face when seeking judicial positions at the ICC.
GQUAL also notes that a recent report released by the Independent Expert Review (IER) on 30 September, raised serious concerns in relation to the current nomination and voting processes as they do not ensure the election of the best qualified judges to conduct complex international trials (para. 961 et seq). In this regard, GQUAL observes that in the latest report issued by the Advisory Committee on Nominations, out of 10 candidates ranked as “highly qualified”, 7 are women. This proves there is no shortage of qualified women candidates to be elected and that ensuring gender parity would not come at the cost of compromising other key requirements.
Considering the above, States have a special duty to ensure that the ICC’s composition reflects geographical and gender diversity, taking into account that international justice is served best, is more legitimate and effective when the bodies that impart it combine, in equal terms, the perspectives of qualified, independent, and diverse people.
GQUAL is a global campaign to achieve gender parity in international tribunals and monitoring bodies. On October, 2017 the campaign adopted an Action Plan that has been endorsed by State representatives, international judges, Bar Associations, and civil society. In line with the call to States in this statement, the document serves as a road map and a call for action to motivate, inspire and inform all the stakeholders involved in pursuing gender parity across international bodies.