Week 9: To Prosecute Gender Persecution

To build the foundation for potential upcoming work around the case for gender persecution in Afghanistan, I am drafting a short backgrounder document. This backgrounder can be used to set the scene and give context for expert colleagues should any meeting/discussions take place at USIP around this situation. It should also include light touch discussion questions intended to guide the conversation.

There are ongoing efforts in the international humanitarian and human rights law space to understand the situation of women and girls under Taliban rule in Afghanistan and whether there is a case for gender persecution. Gender persecution is a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Despite over twenty years of official recognition, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor has only recently begun to bring charges of gender persecution in its cases. Accountability for gender persecution is essential because recognition and understanding of the discrimination that underlies the crime are necessary to breaking cycles of violence and discrimination.

The Taliban has placed discriminatory restrictions on women and girls since it became the de facto authority of Afghanistan in August 2021. Women and girls are prevented from moving freely and dressing how they chose, having an education after primary school, meaningfully participating in the political or public arena, and engaging in many professions, including NGOs and the UN office in Afghanistan. These policies are enforced through the systematic use of imprisonment, torture and other ill-treatment, and enforced disappearance. The Taliban’s policies on women and girls violate many human rights guarantees of several international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party, including the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Research into the current efforts taking place around this situation/issue is also part of building a foundation for the potential project to move forward. It will be important that we are not preempted, and we constructively build off other events/conversations/initiatives/research that has been done.