Women deleted from the new Treaty on Crimes against Humanity
Women's Declaration International denounces: in the new draft of the Treaty the word sex is replaced by "gender", a term for which a precise definition is not given. This is a legal and unprecedented erasure of the female sex

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WDI (Women's Declaration International) expresses extreme alarm that the current draft Treaty on Crimes against Humanity does not include women and girls.

Crimes against Humanity include widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations, including acts such as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution , forced pregnancy, forced sterilization or other sexual violence, gang persecution, disappearance of persons, apartheid and other inhumane acts of a similar nature.

WDI denounces this extreme deprivation of the right of women and girls to be included in this fundamental international law which guarantees the protection of human life and dignity against various forms of violence sanctioned by the State.

WDI, which has 38,138 signatories from 160 countries and is signed by 531 organizations around the world, reiterates in its first article "that women's rights are based on the category of sex" is that "States should maintain the centrality of the category of sex and not of 'gender identity', in relation to the right of women and girls to be free from discrimination".

Women and girls have always been included in modern international human rights law, but the International Law Commission has presented a draft treaty in which women and girls are erased and the undefined term “gender” is used instead of sex. This legal erasure of the female sex is an unprecedented act of disenfranchisement of women and girls; the language adopted by the treaty it will cause harm to women and girls.

“Gender” is a term that cannot be understood without pandering to stereotypes which are identified as harmful in the main international treaty promoting the rights of women and girls, the CEDAW. Here it is established that States are obliged to eradicate these stereotypes: therefore the draft treaty on crimes against humanity conflicts with a fundamental objective of the human rights of women and girls, as set out in CEDAW.

“Gender” also hides the reality of sex-based violence – which sadly is all too real around the world – destroying the ability to document and report sex-specific crimes. The use of “gender” as a legal category instead of sex it also blurs the sex of the perpetrators of violence and their possible punishment.

Restitution for crime survivors is also confused and hindered if data and qualifying criteria cannot distinguish between males and females, but must instead use the unstable and undefined term “gender.”

It's already easy to find examples of the denial of rights to women and girls because of the way “gender” (rather than sex) operates in criminal law (see our full report HERE). Such harm will only multiply if this important international human rights treaty eliminates the reality of sex to adopt the confusing concept of “gender.” Even the International Law Commission (ILC), which oversaw the drafting of this treaty, stated very clearly that “The omission of a definition of the term "gender", contained in subparagraph (h) of paragraph 1, was the subject of discussion by the delegations: some supported the omission, stating, in particular, that the definition contained in the Rome Statute had become obsolete. It has been highlighted that its absence offers greater flexibility for States at the national level. Other delegations preferred to maintain the definition of gender contained in the Rome Statute which in their opinion had not become obsolete, was free of ambiguity and constituted an agreed language. It was emphasized that although there were difficulties in clarifying the term, indications were still needed on how to define it”[1].

Note that even the editors recognize that gender is an unstable term, the meaning of which has changed substantially in recent decades. That's why they don't want to use the definition used in the Rome Statute which would empower the International Criminal Court.

The Rome Statute defines “gender” as “sex.” WDI underlines that the definition of the Rome Statute has the advantage of maintaining a cclear reference to biological bodies that are sexual. However, the Rome Statute definition has never reflected CEDAW's use of the term “gender,” which is deeply linked to stereotypes harmful to women and girls. The current push to use the term gender to the exclusion of sex moves away from both previous meanings of gender, that gender is sex and that gender expresses stereotypes that are harmful to women and girls.

WDI urges clear recognition that building a major international treaty with slippery, unstable, undefined and openly discriminatory language harmful to women and girls is a very bad idea. WDI urges the rejection of the term “gender” in the draft treaty and the restoration of women and girls as fully present human beings in this treaty.

For further information please contact: Jo Brew, info@womensdeclaration.com

For the full report on the draft Crimes Against Humanity Treaty, click here.

[1] Presidency summary of the deliberations of the first resumed session (2023)
and at the second resumed session (2024) of the Sixth Committee on the draft of
articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity and the recommendation of the International Law Commission.
recommendation of the International Law Commission, United Nations General Assembly, seventy-eighth session.
Sixth Committee, agenda item 80, 11 April 2024, paragraph 31, A/C.6/78/L.22/Add.1.

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