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Using international forums

International forums can be effective means for recourse on violence against women and girls. Certain criminal mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice hear claims by states or United Nations bodies such as the Security Council which may involve large-scale incidences of violence against women and girls such as mass rapes in conflict areas. International and mixed/hybrid war crimes tribunals have been established to redress war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for atrocity crimes, including gender-related crimes, in places like the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Timor Leste, and Cambodia. The gender justice jurisprudence emerging from these war crimes tribunals has firmly established that gender crimes can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, torture, enslavement/sexual slavery, persecution, and other serious crimes, and that even one instance of these crimes deserves redress.

Tools:

Analysis of International Jurisprudence Involving Sexual and Other Gender-Based Violence During Conflict (Avon Global Center for Women and Justice, Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic, 2010). Available in English.

Progress and Gaps in International Law in Securing Justice for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence During Conflict (Avon Global Center 2010 Women and Justice Conference). See the video.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (2000) allows individuals to bring complaints or inquiries to the independent experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, when there has been an alleged violation of CEDAW.

For example, in 2005, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women found that the complainant, although she sought help from Hungarian civil and criminal courts and child protection authorities, did not receive any assistance or protection from the Hungarian government. The case involved allegations of severe domestic violence. The Committee found that Hungary had violated the rights of A.T. under the Convention, and made recommendations to Hungary that it act to protect the safety of the author and act more generally to effect the rights granted under the Convention. (A.T v. Hungary, 2005).

Other important United Nations Mechanisms include the United Nations Special Rapporteurs. They can bring single or joint cases of violence against women and girls that fall under their mandate to the attention of the state or states concerned and request the state to take preventative or remedial measures and to report back to the Special Rapporteur.

Special Rapporteurs relevant to cases of violence against women and girls include the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of slavery, its causes and consequences, and the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

Tools for Submitting Cases to International Mechanisms

Summaries of Jurisprudence: Gender-based Violence (Center for Justice and International Law, 2011). Available in English and Spanish.

The Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School provides access to international instruments and case law relating to gender violence and women’s access to justice.  A central feature of this collection is a database of international, regional, and national court decisions that advance gender justice, for example, in cases involving sexual violence, intimate-partner violence, trafficking in persons, and discriminatory inheritance or succession practices.  By providing these resources free of charge, the Center seeks to assist judges, advocates, and other users in applying international and comparative law that advances access to justice for survivors of gender-based violence and discrimination. Available in English.

How to submit cases to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. Available in English.

How to submit cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. Available in English.

How to submit cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Available in English.

How to submit cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary  forms of slavery. Available in English, French, and Spanish.

How to submit cases to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children. Available in English.

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