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There’s A New Proposed Crimes Against Humanity Treaty

September 17, 2018

There’s A New Proposed Crimes Against Humanity Treaty:

But Where Are Women’s and LGBTI Rights?


CUNY Law’s Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic announces a new initiative and launches a Crimes Against Humanity Toolkit focused on promoting international gender justice.


Where We Stand: Progress on safeguards for gender justice

New YorkA new international treaty focusing on crimes against humanity such as massacres, torture, and rape is in the works.  However, the draft treaty adopts an opaque definition of gender, that would give some governments an excuse to ignore persecution committed against women and LGBTI people. Today, activists are launching a campaign calling on the international community to recognize and address crimes against humanity committed on the basis of an inclusive interpretation of gender, expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

In Iraq, accused ISIS fighters are being prosecuted with unprecedented speed, with some sentencing hearings lasting just seven minutes, and zero consideration given to the anti-gay or gender-based crimes committed by fighters on trial. The new crimes against humanity treaty would give LGBTI and women’s rights activists an historic opportunity to fight against hate-related crimes during armed conflict. For this reason, MADRE, an international women’s rights organization and OutRight Action International, a global LGBTI rights organization, have joined forces with lawyers at CUNY School of Law’s Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic to challenge the treaty.

Civil society has until December 1, 2018 to provide input on the draft treaty. As part of their campaign, MADRE, OutRight, and CUNY Law have launched a new Crimes Against Humanity Toolkit that provides activists with concrete ways to make their voices heard before the deadline.

“We have real-world conflict situations, including those featuring hardline militias like ISIS, where women and LGBTI persons are being persecuted because of their gender,” said Lisa Davis, Associate Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law and MADRE Senior Legal Advisor. “The new treaty could help bring these perpetrators to justice. However, a treaty that adopts an opaque definition of gender could result in even greater impunity.”

“International criminal law has made almost no progress on LGBTI rights. This means that when LGBTI people are targeted in times of war and conflict, we lack the tools to hold perpetrators accountable and deliver justice to survivors,” says Jessica Stern, Executive Director of Outright Action International. “What we do now could determine how we protect LGBTI people for generations to come.”

The campaign will continue convening civil society groups and legal experts throughout the fall as part of an organized effort to amplify awareness of the ramifications of the treaty and encourage action to make ally and activist voices heard.



Sign the submission calling on the International Law Commission to update the legal definition of gender and ensure everyone’s rights are protected under the new treaty – especially women and LGBTI persons. To stay connected and get an alert to sign the submission, sign up now.


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About the City University of New York School of Law

The nation’s premier public interest law school is driven by a mission to enhance the diversity of the legal profession and graduate outstanding public interest advocates. Founded in 1983, the public school offers full and part-time programs.


MADRE partners with grassroots women’s groups facing war, disaster and their aftermath. Together, we meet urgent needs and build women’s capacity to create lasting and positive social change by working with partners to apply the tools of human rights advocacy. We make international law accountable to the people it’s meant to serve.

 About OutRight International

OutRight International seeks to advance human rights and opportunities for LGBTIQ people around the world by developing partnerships at global, regional, and national levels to build capacity, document human rights violations, advocate for inclusion and equality, and hold leaders accountable for protecting the rights of LGBTIQ people.


Related Categories: Breaking, Clinic News, General News, HRGJ, International Women’s Human Rights, Spotlight

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