Complementarity’s Gender Justice Prospects and Limitations – Examining normative interactions between the Rome Statute and national accountability processes for sexual violence crimes in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo
Despite the centrality in the Rome Statute of both the principle of complementarity and gender justice norms, little research exists connecting these two core ideas. Using Harold Koh’s transnational legal process theory, my thesis seeks to fill that gap by analysing normative interactions between the Rome Statute and national accountability processes for sexual violence crimes in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It examines how, why and in what way the Rome Statute’s gender justice accountability norms and standards have been domesticated in these two countries, and what this reveals about (positive) complementarity as a tool in the fight against impunity for sexual violence. This analysis starts from a doctrinal analysis of gender justice pressure points in the ICC’s admissibility framework, but also seeks to investigate the practical application of (positive) complementarity in both Colombia and the DRC. This analysis ultimately demonstrates that, while the existence of the ICC (as an institution) is important, most developments around accountability for sexual violence, while often grounded in the idea of complementarity and linked to the Rome Statute, happen through the actions of other actors. The ICC’s constitutive documents and the norms and standards around accountability for sexual violence enshrined therein, on the other hand, have provided an important normative impetus for these developments, particularly where catalysed by civil society organisations and domestic political actors acting as norm entrepreneurs. This thesis thus aims to contribute to illuminating both the prospects and the limitations of (positive) complementarity as applied to the fight against impunity for sexual violence crimes.
Thesis successfully defended on 12 October 2017
Examining Board: Professor Ruth Rubio-Marin, European University Institute (Supervisor); Professor Nehal Bhuta, European University Institute; Professor Morten Bergsmo, Peking University Law School and the Centre for International Law Research and Policy; and Professor Susana SáCouto, American University Washington College of Law.