Search

Open Letter to the African Union: Africa’s Opportunity to Address Gender Diversity at the ICJ

By J. Jarpa Dawuni, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Institute for African Women in Law

Credit: REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Women of Africa are increasingly demonstrating their resilience in global leadership, financial institutions, international criminal law, the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Criminal Court to name a few. But there is more that needs to be done— the November 11, 2020 elections to the bench of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) provides a unique opportunity for member-states of the African Union to once again demonstrate their support for gender equality by supporting the candidature of Judge Julia Sebutinde of Uganda—the first and only African woman to serve on that court.

Currently, women represent only 20% of the judges on the bench of the ICJ. As the ICJ is poised to celebrate its 75th Anniversary in April 2021, it is noteworthy that historically, out of the 108 judges since the court was established, only four have been women. To date, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations remains the most gender-imbalanced international court in the world. This imbalance has prompted scholars and advocacy groups such as the Gender Equality Campaign (GQUAL) to engage in advocacy for diversifying the ICJ bench. On November 11, 2020, elections will be held to fill five judicial positions on the ICJ. Of the eight candidates on the ballot for this election, three are women; Julia Sebutinde of Uganda, Hanqin Xue of China, and Maja Seršic, of Croatia.