Female candidates sought to fill six spots on ICC judges’ bench

Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia is sworn into the ICC in 2012 © ICC-CPI
Launching 2017 International Criminal Court (ICC) Judicial Election Campaign, civil society calls on states to uphold fair female representation in nominations and elections to ICC bench.

For the ICC to be recognized as a truly independent and effective international tribunal that ensures fairness in its procedures and trials, the Court’s chambers must be composed of impartial and highly qualified judges – both female and male.

From 24 April, ICC member states can nominate candidates for election to six soon-to-be vacant judicial positions at The Hague-based Court. The elections will take place during the 16th annual Assembly of States Parties (ASP) session in December 2017 in New York.

The election follows the Court’s regular judicial elections process, which replaces a third of the 18 judges’ bench every three years. The new judges will serve a nine-year term from March 2018.

With its leading role as a model institution for gender parity in the judicial bench, the nomination of female candidates will be especially important for these upcoming elections. As five of the six outgoing ICC judges are women, the Court risks having skewed gender representation unless a sufficient number of highly-qualified female candidates are nominated and elected.

"Female voices need to be included at all levels of the ICC to ensure an inclusive and effective justice," said Alix Vuillemin Grendel, Senior Legal Adviser, Coalition for the ICC. "For the ICC to remain an institution that leads by example, states must do their utmost during these elections to ensure fair gender representation at the world's highest criminal court."

To ensure some measure of fair gender representation on the ICC’s bench, as stipulated in the Rome Statute, the Court’s founding treaty, civil society is calling on states to nominate at least 10 female candidates to ensure the Minimum Voting Requirement (MVR) of five female candidates is met for these judicial elections.

However, the MVR is not a quota system for the ICC bench. That means there is no guarantee that five women will fill these positions during this election. So the fewer female nominations there are, the more likely it is that there will be unfair gender representation.

That’s why we’re calling on ICC member states, as part of our long-standing campaign to ensure the nomination and election of only the most highly-qualified candidates through a fair, transparent and merit-based election, to find and promote the very many highly capable women around the world to the position of ICC judge.

The Coalition as a whole does not endorse or oppose individual candidates, but instead advocates for the integrity of the nomination and election procedures. The Coalition’s Elections Campaign operates in complete independence from the ICC or its member states.

Find out everything you need to know in the lead-up to the 2017 ICC Judicial Elections.



Becoming an ICC judge is one of the most prestigious achievements in the field of international criminal law, the high point of many a jurist’s career. But only the best will do.

The ICC needs six people with extensive courtroom experience, and exceptional familiarity with international law, international humanitarian law, and – hopefully – international justice more broadly.

They need to be of high moral character, impartiality and integrity, and possess the qualifications required in their respective states for appointment to the highest judicial offices.

On top of it all, they need to have an excellent knowledge of and be fluent in either French or English, and be nationals of ICC member states.

To make sure that governments nominate candidates based on their experience and not based on political considerations, we scrutinize how ICC member states come to their nominated candidates.


10 female nominations needed

To make sure that the Court’s bench remains fully representative in terms of gender, geographical representation and legal expertise, each judicial election has minimum voting requirements (MVRs). At the upcoming elections, the following MVRs are in place:

* 5 female candidates

* One candidate from Asia-Pacific

* One candidate from Africa

* One candidate from Latin America and the Caribbean

* One candidate with a specific background in criminal law and procedure (“List A”)

* One candidate with a specific background in international law (“List B”)

This means that at least double these numbers need to be nominated. Check out our 2017 ICC Judicial Elections Factsheet (also available in French and Spanish) for our breakdown of the MVRs.

With five of the six departing ICC Judges being women, no less than a minimum of 10 female candidates will need to be nominated to ensure that the ICC remains a gold standard of gender balance among judicial benches in the various international and regional Courts and Tribunals.

We urge states to seek out the very best and most qualified female candidates to uphold this fundamental standard.


Coalition for the ICC elections campaign

Our Coalition calls for the nomination and election of only the most highly-qualified candidates through a fair, transparent and merit-based election process. We also strongly oppose reciprocal political agreements (“vote-trading”) in ICC elections.

In order to achieve these aims the Coalition runs a comprehensive elections campaign during every ICC judicial elections cycle.

To enhance the election process, we help publicize and raise awareness of the elections and candidates put forward by governments. To this end, we:

* Request all nominating states to provide information on the national nomination process, which we will then make public;

* Request all nominated candidates to complete comprehensive questionnaires regarding their background, qualifications, experience and views on the ICC, which we will share with ICC member states and then release for the public benefit;

* Organize public seminars with available candidates and experts; and

* Share factsheets and background information to ensure a fully informed nomination and election process.

The Coalition has received strong endorsement from ICC member states for its election campaigns, and since 2003 the participation of candidates has been almost universal.


Advisory Committee on Nominations

In 2011, the ASP set up an Advisory Committee on Nominations of Judges (ACN) to facilitate the nomination and election of the highest qualified jurists. The ACN objectively assesses the nominated candidates, guided by applicable provisions in the Rome Statute. We are committed to supporting the ACN in fulfilling its mandate and further improving the ICC judicial elections, and have strongly urged member states to give their full support to the work of the ACN and to pay due regard to its findings and recommendations.

Read more about the 2017 elections.

Read more about how the elections work.

Read the stories of the women fighting for global justice.