Stockholm International Peace Research Institute



ICC - International Criminal Court:



Direct Link to Full 16-Page Document:


Prosecuting Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

at the International Criminal Court

Ashley Dallman
SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security no. 2009/1



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The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) promised to prosecute those most responsible for the Ďunimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanityí. The promise includes the unprecedented explicit criminalization of rape and other forms of sexual violence in international humanitarian law. As of 1 May 2009 the ICC had opened investigations in 4 situations and had issued 13 arrest warrants, 8 of which relate to charges of sexual slavery and rape constituting crimes against humanity or war crimes. However, the number of ICC investigations, arrests and prosecutions is not the only measure of the courtís success: the ICC has also made intentional efforts to take gender issues into account.

Yet, nearly seven years after its establishment, the ICCís ability to serve as both a symbol of deterrence and as a catalyst for the elimination of sexual violence in armed conflict altogether remains questionable. The courtís efficacy remains hampered by a number of limitations, and a reassessment of the ICCís self-defined capacity to both prevent and provide justice for sexually violent crimes is needed. The upcoming Review Conference of the Rome Statute in 2010 marks a pivotal opportunity for such an assessment and next steps.


I. Introduction
II. Background
III. The efficacy of the International Criminal Court: actual or symbolic justice?
IV. Looking forward
V. Conclusions

About the author

Ashley Dallman (United States) is a social welfare researcher for a non-profit organization based in New York, where she focuses on the role of the government in poverty intervention and peopleís access to public assistance. She was a Council of Women World Leaders intern with the SIPRI Armed Conflicts and Conflict Management Programme in the summer of 2008. She holds a masterís degree in social work from Columbia University and a bachelorís degree from the University of WisconsinĖMadison.

Publisher: SIPRI
16 pp.
May 2009

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