Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Women are underrepresented in virtually every international body responsible for adjudicating, monitoring, and developing international law. As of February 2017, three of the 15 judges on the International Court of Justice are women; the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has 21 judges, only one of whom is a woman; and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has no permanent women judges. This working paper analyzes the extent to which international human rights law and standards support the GQUAL Campaign’s call for States to pledge to achieve gender parity on international courts and monitoring bodies.
States establish the nominating or voting procedures that apply to any particular international body. There are a number of opportunities for States to shape the pool of applicants, the composition of any short list, and the final composition of the international body. Because States have a fundamental role in establishing the procedures and controlling the final outcome, the GQUAL Campaign calls on States to address underrepresentation by adopting measures to rectify the gender imbalance on international judicial and monitoring bodies.
The Campaign is rooted in well-established and widely accepted provisions of international law. Article 8 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”) establishes the right of women to represent their governments at the international level, on equal terms with men and without discrimination, and to participate in the work of international organizations. To gain a fuller understanding of the international legal basis for gender parity in addition to the CEDAW framework, this working paper identifies and analyzes complementary international human rights law standards pertinent to the GQUAL Declaration found in the UN Charter, selected international human rights treaties, UN resolutions, and policy statements.
The absence of women in equal numbers with men as international judges and members of human rights monitoring bodies is a grave issue. Gender disparities in international institutions undermine the international commitment to equality and non-discrimination. Further, the lack of gender parity erodes the legitimacy of international legal institutions and their mandates to uphold these universal values. This working paper contributes to the effort to address this gap by drawing attention to the scope of international human rights law and standards that can be marshaled to ground the GQUAL Declaration in international law and accepted best practices.