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Global Justice Center Blog

Options to Advance the ILC Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity

  1. This Memorandum identifies three potential avenues to advance the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity to the next procedural step. It is intended as a practical, not a technical, guide.

 

  1. The Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity have widespread support from States, yet opposition from a few States has caused them to stagnate in the United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee due to the Committee’s tradition of acting by consensus.

 

  1. Option 1 is for the Sixth Committee to act, by breaking consensus, if necessary. It could establish an Ad Hoc Committee to examine the Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity. Alternatively, there is precedent for moving directly to a Codification Conference or working directly on the Draft Articles as a Committee of the Whole.

 

  1. Option 2 is for the General Committee to shift the Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity to the Third Committee or the Plenary of the General Assembly.

 

  1. Option 3 is to pursue the development of a treaty on crimes against humanity either outside of, or adjacent to, the United Nations.

 

Download the Full Letter 

US Supreme Court Repeals Constitutional Right to Abortion

NEW YORK — The United States Supreme Court today repealed the constitutional right to abortion. The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization allows Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban to remain in place and explicitly overturns decades of precedent set by the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions that prevented states from banning abortions before viability.

Abortion is likely to become illegal immediately in roughly half of US states. Other states are expected to further limit abortion access, while some have taken steps to expand access in anticipation of the court’s ruling.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Today will go down as one of the darkest days for human rights in American history. With the stroke of a pen, this court has barred millions from access to a medical service that the World Health Organization has deemed a ‘crucial part of healthcare.’ The repercussions for bodily autonomy and gender equality in the US will be devastating.

“Though decades of attacks have deeply eroded the protections of Roe, and safe abortion has for too long been inaccessible to many, today’s ruling puts the United States firmly in violation of its human rights obligations. Around the world, recognition of the right to abortion access is sweeping. Ireland, Colombia, Benin, and countless other countries have taken steps in recent years to expand abortion access. Make no mistake: the US is now a global pariah on abortion, and accordingly, gender equality.

“This is certainly the catastrophic day we all feared. But it is also a day we’ve long prepared for. While we fight state-by-state to secure abortions for anyone who needs them, there are actions President Biden and Congress can take now to protect the human right to abortion. With stakes this high, each day of inaction is an attack on every person now living in a country without bodily autonomy.”

Sector statement on queering atrocity prevention

Queer people’s experience of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes is not new. From the British Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Holocaust, the ongoing anti-gay purges in Chechnya, and legal shifts which persecute members of the LGBTQI+ community and allies, LGBTQI+ communities have been, and still are, deliberately targeted by systematic violence and discrimination. Some of these campaigns can be described as mass atrocity crimes, while others sound the alarm and significantly increase risk for the incidence of mass atrocity crimes against LGBTQI+ communities across the world. And yet understanding of this experience is not well-developed nor widely-discussed. In fact, queer people’s experiences can often be deliberately silenced in policy and research on identity-based violence and mass atrocities - a problem which is further compounded by threats to safety faced by queer populations that can make it dangerous for them to make their experiences and expertise heard and accounted for.

As members of the atrocity prevention field, we know that widespread or systematic violent targeting of LGBTQI+ people can often look different from the widespread or systematic violent targeting of ethnic, indigenous, national, religious and racial groups that traditionally dominate the atrocity prevention and response agenda. However, crimes against LGBTQI+ individuals and communities may still meet the conceptual and legal thresholds of mass atrocity crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

We know, too, that the absence of LGBTQI+ professionals and queer analysis from atrocity prevention work normalises and institutionalises pre-existing heteronormative and patriarchal structures. This perpetuates the exclusion of LGBTQI+ communities in - and from - atrocity prevention work.

Read the Full Letter

Open Letter Calling for a Complete and Accurate List of Perpetrators

Dear Mr. Secretary-General

We are writing with regard to your forthcoming annual report on children and armed conflict (CAAC). As you finalize your decisions regarding the annexes and inclusion of other situations of concern, we urge you to ensure the publication of a complete list of perpetrators of grave violations that is evidence-based and accurately reflects data collected and verified by the United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM). We further encourage you to draw attention to additional contexts where there is credible evidence that grave violations against children have been committed, by designating these contexts as ‘other situations of concern.’

As nongovernmental organizations working to alleviate suffering in humanitarian settings and protect human rights, we strongly support UN Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent resolutions on CAAC, as concrete tools for improving the protection of children in war. The MRM, the annual CAAC report, and its annexed list of perpetrators are a crucial foundation for enhancing the protection of children, ending and preventing violations, and contributing to accountability. These tools are central to drawing the attention of the Security Council to the situation of children, providing an analysis of the variety of violations committed against children, and paving the way for the UN’s engagement with parties to conflict. However, these mechanisms will only remain powerful if they are credible and consistently applied to all perpetrators in all contexts.

Read the Full Letter

Ireland and Latin America Can Inspire the US Abortion Fight

Excerpt of Bloomberg article quoting GJC Legal Director Dr. Christine Ryan.

High-profile cases can nuance the debate by making even those averse to terminations recognize that it can be necessary — but normalization is vital. As Christine Ryan of the Global Justice Center argues, most abortion cases are not extreme; legislating only for the exceptions risks leaving many people behind, and abortion outside normal reproductive healthcare. Another risk is that only those who elicit our compassion are seen as deserving of this freedom. “Women shouldn't need to make us cry to have their rights respected,” Ryan says.

Both in Latin America and in Ireland, language choices helped to break down taboos. Avoiding heavily charged words (including abortion), campaigns have focused on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy as a medical procedure. Ireland’s was notable for its emphasis on hope. Its “Together for Yes” campaign featured slogans like “Sometimes a private matter needs public support” and advertisements that called to mind unifying national events, encouraging voters to drive change. The Niñas No Madres campaign in Latin America sought to shield young girls by encouraging the girls to be seen as just that — children.

Read the Article