Six women and one man were elected to the 18-member International Criminal Court (ICC) after the first round of voting on Tuesday. The ICC’s first judges are Elizabeth Odio Benito of Panama/Costa Rice, Maurenn Harding Clark of Ireland, Fatoumata Diarra of Mali, Akua Kuenyehia of Ghana, Navanthem Pillay of South Africa, and Sylvia Steiner of Brazil. The United States was not allowed to vote or submit any candidates to the court due to its strong opposition to the ICC, according to the Associated Press.
The voting procedure for the ICC is designed to ensure that the composition of the panel will have a gender and geographical balance. Groups such as the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice are working to ensure high levels of women’s participation in the ICC. There are still 11 open judgeships, and the Women’s Caucus is aiming for gender parity on the ICC.
The ICC has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which created the court, presents clear language that defines gender crimes as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.
The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. In fact, the Bush administration has threatened to withdraw military aid to countries that will not guarantee US immunity in the ICC.