UNITED NATIONS - A coalition of 1,000 international
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) led by Human Rights Watch,
International and the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice are
disappointment over the dearth of women judges on the
Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
''Western states are simply paying lip-service to gender main-
William R. Pace, Convenor of the NGO Coalition for an
Court (CICC) told IPS Thursday.
Only one woman, Florence Ndepele Mwachande Mumba of Zambia, was
among the 25
nominees considered Wednesday by the UN General Assembly at its
meeting in New York. And she was elected last, after four
of voting in which no candidate received the required 96 votes and
of her peers had withdrawn their candidacy.
She joins 13 other colleagues who will begin four year terms as
judges of the
ICTY in November. They are: Claude Jorda (France), Fausto Pocar
Hunt (Australia), Patrick Robinson (Jamaica), Theodor Meron
Carmel Agius (Malta), Wolfgang Schomburg (Germany), Liu Daqun
May (Britain), Alphonsus Martinus Maria Orie (Netherlands), Ogon
Korea), Mohammed Shahabuddeen (Guyana) and Mohamed Amin El Abbassi
The ICTY was established by the UN Security Council in 1992 to
serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in
territory of the former Yugoslavia during conflict there in the
But, NGOs are raising concerns that member states are undermining
they have made to ensure an appropriate gender balance when
important positions are made, Pace told IPS.
''It is appalling that the process is further characterised by the
campaign efforts we have been witnessing over the past few weeks
United Nations, including what amounts to 'horse-trading' between
This is unacceptable as a means of electing those who will be
the most important judges in international law,'' Pace stressed.
''Who knows what future candidacies have been promised in exchange
yesterday's votes,'' Pace said Thursday. ''Will those 'good old
be the world's most powerful judges?'' he asked.
''The campaigning that led up to the elections was disgusting -
the absence of any type of gender balance,'' he continued.
Susan Markham, General Assembly spokeswoman, told reporters that
nominees for ICTY judges had been submitted by member states, at
of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Furthermore, the Security
Council had to
extend the deadline for nominations to allow for more nominations
to come in
because they had received fewer nominations than the minimum
required by the
Vahinda Nainar, Executive Director of the Women's Caucus for
based in New York, emphasised the importance of having women
judges at the
tribunals and at the future International Criminal Court (ICC),
that ''although women judges at both the ICTY and the
Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have always been too few in number,
they have been
critical to ensuring that widespread and horrific crimes against
properly charged and prosecuted''.
In February Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population
(UNFPA), hailed a verdict handed down by the ICTY where three
were convicted of crimes against humanity for the rape and
women. The crimes were perpetrated during a 1992-1993 Serb
campaign of terror
to 'cleanse' the Foca area of Bosnia and Herzegovina of Muslims.
The three men
received sentences of 28, 20 and 12 years.
''The proceedings showed in horrifying detail how countless women
systematic, unspeakable assaults on their body, soul and
''Without women's presence, crimes against women would have likely
unaddressed as has been the case in past international
The first time an international tribunal recognised rape as a
humanity was in September 1998 when the ICTR convicted Jean-Paul
for rape. It set the precedent that rape could be regarded as an
genocide if committed with genocidal intent.
CICC was formed in 1995 to advocate for the creation of a fair,
independent ICC. Since then it has been working with its regional
and governments from around the world to prevent gender biases
overwhelming the nomination process for the ICC once the treaty
the Court comes into force.
''The processes that characterise the elections for the ICTY and
ICTR will be
the precedents for the ICC elections, we must fight for
openness in these processes,'' Pace told IPS.
The ICC should be established within the next two years according
to the UN,
at which time it will take over the work of the ICTY and ICTR
which were set
up as temporary bodies.
In the meantime the Security Council has called for 27 additional
the ICTY in order to prosecute new cases and appeals in a more
Currently the ICTY hears its cases in two chambers at The Hague in
Copyright 2001 IPS