Not-marchers on the march

nobloodforoilSo, I don’t march.

I stayed home when millions protested the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Stayed home for “No Blood for Oil” too (though I did have the T-shirt, at left). Avoided the streets of my Paris sabbatical home on May Day 2002, when half a million marched to the chants of “Là-Bas Le Pen.”

Pretty much avoided all public demonstrations since childhood, never having really seen the point of taking to the streets instead of concrete action – that is, instead of litigating/teaching/reasoning/writing/policymaking toward lasting solutions.

So why march today?

► Because the promise of the election of Barack Obama – hands down, the best President of my lifetime – so soon was dashed by never-believed yet oft-repeated undercuttings of his citizenship. The spurious claims and the events that ensued sunk the hope that had lifted many of us in 2007 and 2008. Fell particularly hard on those of us who are immigrants, or who count immigrants among our loved ones.

aliceroom3Because in the last years we’ve been forced to swallow bile: cruel falsehoods about the 1st woman to be nominated by a major U.S. political party; harsh slaps against everyone who has endured sexual assault; soulless insults about every disadvantaged group imaginable.

► Because Looking-Glass intrigue belongs to the fantasy world of Lewis Carroll, not to the real world in which we all must live.

Because aspirations to human dignity, equality, liberty, and justice, without borders, will not withstand anti-“globalist” attack unless those of us who hold these values dear come to their defense.

Because if we fail to object, we fail our children.

To quote other ‘Grrls:

“It seems like a day when numbers matter.”

“I couldn’t not go.”

And so even we not-marchers march, in D.C., in Philadelphia, and, at last count, in nearly 700 other places around the world.

march

Call for posts: Help IntLawGrrls cover this week’s global array of counter/inauguration events

posterEven as we mark the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the many women and men who have kept the movement for human rights and human security on the march, today we at IntLawGrrls look toward events later this week:

► Friday’s transfer of power from President Barack Obama to his elected successor; and, not least,

► Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, organized around “Unity Principles” that will be familiar to our readers. Accompanying that Capitol counterinaugural event  will be a myriad of Sister Marches – at this writing, it’s estimated that more than 700,000 persons will march at more than 380 sites around the globe. The worldwide map is stunning; in the words of organizers:

“Women’s March Global is a proactive international movement, not a U.S. election-specific protest per se, which has galvanized people to defend women’s rights and those of others in response to the rising rhetoric of far-right populism around the world.”

Eight years ago, we ‘Grrls commemorated Obama’s inauguration with celebratory posts from around the world (here and here), as we had the 2008 election itself (see here). This week we hope to repeat that coverage – this time in a spirit of determination rather than celebration. A number of us plan to march and post, and we welcome all of you to join us in this effort.

If you already have an IntLawGrrls account at this ilg2 site, simply post, ideally with photos, according to our usual process. If you haven’t an account but would like to get ready to post, or if you have one but will need assistance getting your text and photos online while you’re marching, please e-mail our editors at intlawgrrls@gmail.com.

Onward.

Women on the ICC Bench: Moving Forward and Leading the Way

As the 15th ICC Assembly of States Parties (ASP) closes, there is much work for States Parties and the Court in the year ahead. One important item will be the identification, nomination, and election of judges for the Court. In 2017 the ICC ASP will have the responsibility of electing six new judges. This will be due to the fact that the terms of six judges, five of whom are female (including current president Sylvia Fernández de Gurmendi), will be ending at the start of 2018. Currently, almost half of the ICC’s judges are women. This means that such an important election places the power in the hands of States Parties to either continue moving the court forward with respect to gender representation in international institutions or regressing backwards towards a judiciary disproportionately comprised of men. This comes on the heels of an election for a new United Nations Secretary General, where the hope that the world would see its first female to hold this position was quickly quashed. Instead, António Guterres, a male politician and diplomat from Portugal was named the next Secretary-General on October 13, 2016. Currently, the ICC bench is one of, if not the most, gender representative judiciary in the international justice system but this could all change at the next Assembly of States Parties.

The current favourable gender representation stems, at least in part, from Article 36(8)(a) of the Rome Statute which articulates considerations States Parties must take into account in their election of judges. One such consideration is “(iii) A fair representation of female and male judges.” This was further elaborated upon in a 2004 ASP Resolution which explains the minimum voting requirement for gender. Where the number of candidates from each sex is greater than 10, each State Party must vote for at least 6 men and 6 women. Where there is fewer than 10 candidates of a particular gender, this Resolution articulates a formula which determines the minimum voting requirement. For example, if there are 5 candidates of a particular sex, the minimum voting requirement is 3. Such requirements are progressive for an international criminal institution; however, this progressiveness is limited by the “four round rule”. This means that after four rounds of voting the minimum voting requirement is suspended and the elections are open. This removal of the minimum voting requirements for gender after four rounds of voting could threaten to undo the current gender composition of the bench.

 

As today marks the final day of the 15th ASP, parties to the Rome Statute now have one year to ensure that the upcoming year will be one of at least maintaining, if not improving, the gender representation of the Court. This means encouraging States to nominate not simply strong candidates, but strong female candidates. A State Party may only nominate one candidate for election, though they are not required to do so. At this time, it is known that Italy intends to nominate a male judge for candidacy based on their statement on the opening day of the ASP. However, there are also whispers that Canada intends to nominate a female candidate – a move that would be welcomed and perhaps even unsurprising given the diversity in the appointment of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2015 cabinet (comprised of fifty percent female ministers). Mexico also announced its intention to nominate a judge during the ASP, though no information as to the potential candidate’s gender is currently known.

A 2013 Report from the International Commission of Jurists emphasizes the importance of women’s full and equal participation in the judiciary. However, it also highlights the obstacles to achieving such representation. One obstacle is a lack of transparency in nomination and appointment/election processes: women do not always have the same access to the political networking circles many men do. Women also continue to fight against gender stereotypes and norms which have traditionally portrayed men as judges, and women in positions of lesser power and authority. These same arguments were articulated with regards to the recent election of the new UN Secretary-General where many comments regarding the “boys club” UN Security-Council with a “steel ceiling” were noted. This is why bringing the issue of women on the bench at the ICC to the forefront of citizen, NGO, and, perhaps most importantly, States’ minds is of critical importance. Gender representation on the bench is not easily secured and must be worked hard for. It is by no means too soon to start championing the cause.

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