Debevoise and PILPG Contribute to International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Gender Persecution Policy Initiative

21 March 2022

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has partnered with Public International Law and Policy Group (PILPG) and other pro bono law firm partners to submit comments to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning the OTP’s forthcoming policy initiative to advance accountability for gender-based persecution under the Rome Statute.

In their comments, Debevoise and PILPG outlined the history of prosecuting sexual and gender-based crimes before the ICC and proposed various policies and practices for inclusion in the gender persecution policy that draw from jurisprudence and practice at the ICC and other international and regional bodies. Specifically, Debevoise and PILPG recommended that the OTP:

  • Adopt a broad and modern interpretation of “gender” that reflects the evolution of international human rights law beyond the male/female binary;
  • Broaden the conception of gender-based persecution by considering the subjective perspective of the perpetrator rather than the objective characteristics of the victims;
  • Engage early with victims of gender-based persecution, ensure their safe and effective participation in the pre-trial and trial stages, and solicit their views as to appeals;
  • Charge persecution on all available grounds, rather than collapsing gender persecution with other crimes, such as religious or ethnic persecution; and
  • Affirm that gender persecution will be prosecuted in accordance with international law standards, and not by reference to local customs or culture.

The OTP will solicit a second round of public comments during the drafting process for the policy. Once finalized, the gender persecution policy will supplement the OTP’s previously published Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes (2014).

Dr. Paul R. Williams, President of PILPG, stated: “It was a privilege for the PILPG to work with our colleagues at Debevoise & Plimpton on this very important project. We hope that our work will be an important contribution to the development of OTP’s gender persecution policy, and we look forward to engaging with the OTP in the future.”

Floriane Lavaud, Debevoise counsel, stated: “We are honored to collaborate with PILPG on the ICC OTP’s gender persecution policy. The policy initiative is a most welcome step in the fight to end impunity for a very serious but too often overlooked crime. We commend the OTP’s leadership role in that fight and are pleased to support its efforts.”

The Debevoise team is led by partners Catherine Amirfar and Natalie Reid, counsel Floriane Lavaud and associate Merryl Lawry-White, and includes associates Lisa Wang Lachowicz, Taylor Booth, and Patrick Corcoran, and law clerk Hillary Hubley.