Gender and Sexual Crimes Before Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals


Szpak, Agnieszka. 2011. “Gender and Sexual Crimes Before Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals." International Journal of Public Law and Policy 1 (3): 284-298.

Author: Agnieszka Szpak


Rape has been regarded as a weapon of war, a tool used to achieve military objectives such as ethnic cleansing, genocide, spreading political terror, breaking the resistance of a community, intimidation or extraction of information. The 1949 Geneva Conventions do not refer to acts of sexual violence as a 'grave breach'. The 1990s saw the establishment of the two flagship international criminal institutions – the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as well as codification of rape and other sexual violence as among the gravest international crimes in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The purpose of this paper is on the one hand to point to the achievements of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals in the recognition of gender crimes as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and on the other, to indicate that there have been some mischaracterisations and misunderstandings in their jurisprudence, particularly as to the issue of consent of the victim of rape as definitional element of that crime.

Keywords: genocide, war rape, ICC, war crimes

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Ethnicity, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Criminal Law, Justice, Crimes against Humanity, International Tribunals & Special Courts, War Crimes, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women Regions: Africa, Central Africa, Europe, Balkans, Eastern Europe Countries: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Rwanda

Year: 2011

© 2023 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at