Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is an umbrella term for violence inflicted upon someone because of their actual or perceived gender. All individuals – females, males, gender non-conforming individuals, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) – can be victims of SGBV. It is a serious violation of human rights and can be a crime under international law, which has also been often overlooked. To mainstream gender justice, JRR has made SGBV one of its priorities, along with sexual exploitation and abuse.
Thankfully, the international community’s willingness to investigate and prosecute SGBV crimes has increased. However, there is a gap in the capacity of international and national courts and processes to effectively use the existing international legal framework to deliver justice to victims and survivors. This is exactly where JRR comes into play.
JRR makes experts rapidly available to States where alleged crimes have been committed or to institutions with appropriate jurisdiction to lead or assist accountability processes. JRR responds to requests for rapidly deployable SGBV expertise, including when impacting the rights of children. Since becoming operational in 2009, JRR has assisted in over 600 expert deployments, including over 280 SGBV deployments, illustrating the high demand for SGBV expertise by accountability mechanisms. Further, in 2022, over 30% of our deployments had for primary focus SGBV.
Additionally, JRR integrates SGBV and gender considerations in the majority of its deployments, including those that do not have a SGBV focus.
JRR is proud to have developed a long-standing partnership with UN Women. We are dedicated to supporting the UN system’s efforts to mainstream gender issues and keep fighting SGBV.
Over the years, we have worked with civil society organizations, States and international organizations.
At the international level, JRR has partnered with UN Women and OHCHR to ensure all UN Commissions of Inquiry and Fact-Finding Missions have gender expertise. This has been the case since 2010. JRR has furthermore provided gender expertise to the International Criminal Court; the Extraordinary African Chambers; the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; the United Nations System (OHCHR, UN Women, UNDP, UNICEF, SRSG-SVC, SRSG-CAAC), and regional organizations, such as the African Union, Organization of American States and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
At the national level, JRR has deployed experts to support the work of national institutions, including in Colombia, Guatemala, Kosovo, the Maldives, The Gambia, Ukraine and Uganda, and civil society organizations, including in the Middle East region, that document serious human rights violations, including SGBV and crimes against children, with the aim of fostering accountability for these crimes.
Tackling the Crime of Gender Persecution: A Culmination of Relentless Efforts
In 2014, JRR deployed an SGBV investigator to support the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, contributing to the first ICC confirmation of the charge of gender-based persecution (Al Hassan case, Mali). In 2021, JRR roster expert Lisa Davis was appointed as the ICC’s Special Advisor on Gender Persecution to advise the Prosecutor’s Office on the investigation and prosecution of the crime against humanity of persecution on the grounds of gender. The Special Advisor’s work led to the ICC’s Policy on the crime of gender persecution, which recognizes all victims of this crimes, namely women, girls, men, boys, and LGBTQI+ persons.
It takes a comprehensive approach to sexual and gender-based crimes that may amount to the crime against humanity of persecution on the grounds of gender. JRR proudly contributed to the elaboration of the new policy and sees the need for justice actors to further document the crime of gender persecution in many contexts. This includes Afghanistan and Iran where prominent women launched a campaign calling on states to recognize gender ‘apartheid’ as a crime under international law. Further demonstrating JRR’s commitment to tackling this issue, we are currently deploying an SGBV expert to support the work of the UN Special Rapporteur (SR) on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan. The JRR expert’s work contributed to the SR’s determination that the ongoing discriminatory denial of women and girls’ fundamental human rights may amount to the crime against humanity of gender persecution.