Global Justice Center Blog

Oportunidades para Avanzar en la Justicia de Género en el Proyecto de Tratado Internacional sobre Crímenes de Lesa Humanidad

Un Nuevo Tratado Internacional Sobre Crímenes De Lesa Humanidad

Un nuevo tratado sobre crímenes de lesa humanidad se está considerando en la Organización de las  Naciones Unidas (ONU). El tratado propuesto tiene un potencial significativo para promover la justicia en casos de crímenes basados en el género. Sin embargo, para lograr un tratado fuerte, que sea justo en términos de género y centrado en las personas sobrevivientes, diversas organizaciones de la sociedad civil de todo el mundo deben participar en el proceso para desarrollarlo.

Si bien el genocidio y los crímenes de guerra están codificados en convenciones independientes, no existe un tratado internacional individual análogo que codifique y establezca obligaciones a los estados para prevenir y castigar los crímenes de lesa humanidad. Para abordar esta brecha, la Comisión de Derecho Internacional (CDI) de la ONU preparó el Proyecto de Artículos sobre la Prevención y el Castigo de los Crímenes de Lesa Humanidad, que proporciona un punto de partida para la discusión y negociación de un nuevo tratado internacional sobre crímenes de lesa humanidad.

¿Dónde Se Encuentra El Tratado Ahora?

Actualmente, el proyecto de tratado se está considerando en la Sexta Comisión de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas, que es su comisión legal. En abril de 2023, los Estados convocaron a una sesión especial de seguimiento de la Sexta Comisión, que duró una semana y estuvo dedicada exclusivamente al intercambio de opiniones sobre el contenido del proyecto de tratado. Una segunda sesión similar de la Sexta Comisión para discutir el proyecto de tratado tendrá lugar en abril de 2024, y los Estados tomarán una decisión formal sobre los próximos pasos en octubre de 2024.

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Avanzando hacia un Tratado sobre Crímenes de Lesa Humanidad

Se han cometido y enjuiciado crímenes de lesa humanidad en muchas partes del mundo, incluyendo en Camboya, Ruanda, Colombia, Yugoslavia y en el contexto de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Sin embargo, hasta el día de hoy, aún no existe un tratado internacional independiente que codifique los crímenes de lesa humanidad y establezca deberes de prevenirlos y castigarlos. En un marcado contraste, desde la década de 1940 han existido tratados para prevenir y castigar el genocidio y los crímenes de guerra. Esta brecha legal fomenta la impunidad para crímenes graves y crea una falsa jerarquía entre atrocidades igualmente graves.

Un nuevo tratado, basado en el Proyecto de Artículos de la Comisión de Derecho Internacional sobre la Prevención y el Castigo de los Crímenes de lesa Humanidad, ofrece la oportunidad de llenar esta brecha.

El tratado ofrecería beneficios tangibles para víctimas y sobrevivientes. Combatiría la percepción de que las víctimas de ciertos crímenes merecen más la justicia que otras. Además, el Tratado impondría obligaciones a los Estados para que, en primer lugar, prevengan los crímenes contra la humanidad, y permitiría que los Estados tengan responsabilidad ante la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ) si no cumplen con sus responsabilidades de prevención.

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Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan Announces Resignation

Global Justice Center President Akila Radhakrishnan today announced her resignation. After 14 years at the organization — including 5 as president — she will resign by the end of this year.

Here is her letter to the GJC community: 

Dear friends,

Leading the Global Justice Center has never been just a job for me. That’s why it’s bittersweet for me to share some important personal news with you: after 14 incredible years at GJC, including five years as President, I have made the difficult decision to step down from my role and leave GJC by the end of this year. 

I didn’t come to this decision lightly. My time here has been nothing short of extraordinary, and it has been an incredibly important part of my life. However, I also believe that good leadership means knowing when to take a step back and create pathways for new ideas, strategies, and leadership. For GJC this is also an opportunity to live our values of feminism and power-sharing within our own operations.

The past 14 years at GJC have been deeply rewarding. I have had the absolute privilege of shaping GJC’s strategy, vision, and projects, and of working alongside incredible staff, donors, and partners. From pioneering the argument that abortion is protected care under international humanitarian law, to supporting our partners in Myanmar in their pursuit of justice and accountability at the International Court of Justice and beyond, and being at the forefront of a feminist approach to a new crimes against humanity treaty, I am immensely proud of GJC’s accomplishments.

I believe that GJC will only stand to gain by bringing in new leadership in this next chapter. This is a wonderful opportunity for GJC’s future, one that I am excited for us all to embrace. Organizational leaders often receive a disproportionate amount of credit for the work of an entire team. Still, in my case, every accomplishment has been the result of the work of a brilliant and committed staff. The organization remains in excellent hands with the Board and the Staff, and we are all committed to ushering in a seamless and fruitful transition. 

In the next few days, GJC’s Board of Directors will launch a search for my successor as president. GJC has successfully navigated challenging transition periods before, and I have complete faith that my successor will be profoundly dedicated to advancing reproductive freedom, gender equality, and access to justice.

I ask that, as this transition takes place, you continue to support our work and embrace this exciting opportunity with me to invest in the future of our small but mighty organization. The Global Justice Center is made stronger by our community of supporters, and we welcome you to reach out with questions as they may arise. 

This isn’t goodbye just yet; it’s an invitation to stand with us as we navigate a significant but necessary shift for GJC’s future. Thank you for your continued partnership.

In solidarity,

Akila Radhakrishnan

Save Mifepristone: People’s Brief

On Friday, April 7, 2023, Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk delivered his decision in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine et al v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration et al, ruling that mifepristone should be pulled from the market.  

On Wednesday, April 12, 2023, a three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals partly overruled Kacsmaryk’s decision, stating that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone remains valid while also ruling to reinstate medically unnecessary restrictions to accessing the medication. 

This decision could result in a devastating, nationwide ban on mifepristone — even in states where abortion is legally protected — and compromise access to medication abortion across the country.

USOW and our partners across the country are mobilizing behind a united message to our judiciary: reverse this harmful decision, respect science, and uphold the law.

Read the Full Brief

(Updated) Factsheet: Moving Towards a Treaty on Crimes Against Humanity

Crimes against humanity have been committed and prosecuted all over the world, including in Cambodia, Rwanda, Colombia, Yugoslavia, and in the context of World War II. Yet to this day, there is no standalone international treaty that codifies crimes against humanity and establishes duties to prevent and punish them. In stark contrast, treaties have existed to prevent and punish genocide and war crimes since the 1940s. This legal gap fosters impunity for serious crimes and creates a false hierarchy between equally egregious atrocities.

A new treaty, based on the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Humanity offers an opportunity to fill this gap.

The treaty would deliver tangible benefits for victims and survivors. It would combat the perception that victims of some crimes are more deserving of justice than others. The treaty would also place obligations on states to prevent crimes against humanity in the first place, and allow for states to be held accountable at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) if they failed to uphold their prevention responsibilities.

1. What are crimes against humanity? How are they different from war crimes and genocide?

Crimes against humanity (CAH) are amongst the most serious violations of human rights. They are defined in existing international law as one or more specific acts committed under certain conditions. Crimes against humanity include:

murder; extermination; enslavement; deportation or forcible transfer of population; illegal imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty; torture; rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; persecution; enforced disappearance; the crime of apartheid; and other inhumane acts.

In order for any of the above acts to constitute crimes against humanity, they must be committed against a civilian population (as opposed to soldiers or other non-civilian populations), and they must be part of a widespread or systematic attack (not singular violations).

In other words, crimes against humanity are distinguished from “ordinary” crimes by how widespread or systematic the violations are, and by who is targeted (civilians). Crimes against humanity are related to war crimes and genocide — each category of crime is considered a “core” international crime, but there are important differences among them.

War crimes, by definition, can only be committed in the context of an armed conflict. They involve grave breaches of the laws of war, committed against people or entities who are protected under those laws (such as civilians and their property) and/or the use of prohibited methods or means of warfare. The acts that can constitute war crimes range from willful killing to pillaging, sexual violence, and declaring that there will be “no mercy” in a military operation. It is possible for the same act to constitute both a crime against humanity and a war crime, or to be only one or the other.

Genocide differs from both of these categories of crimes because it is motivated by a specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial, ethnical, or religious group. Some of the acts involved in genocide (such as killing or sexual violence) can also constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, but for these acts to constitute genocide, they must be committed with the intent to destroy.

Although these three categories of crimes are different, there is no hierarchy among them. The distinctions between these crimes reflect legal categories designed to accurately describe the nature of the crimes and to capture the distinct motives and methods of perpetrators.

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