Recognising Children Born of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in International Criminal Law: Challenges and Possibilities

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


International criminal law has grown rapidly over the past three decades, developing a substantial jurisprudence on crimes of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) perpetrated against women, as well as jurisprudence on crimes against children, most notably the crime of conscripting or enlisting children under 15 into the armed forces. However, a category of individuals that intersect both groups has remained on the margins: children born of SGBV. It is estimated that tens of thousands of children have been born worldwide as a result of this violence in recent conflicts, and despite the fact that these children are born out of crimes international criminal law has been designed to punish and redress, such children have received limited attention in the international criminal arena.

These children represent a unique category of war-affected children that test the boundaries of international criminal law: in contrast to child soldiers, who are directly affected by the conflict, the suffering and indeed the existence of children born of sexual and gender-based violence is brought about by the original crime perpetrated against their mother. Thus, it would seem that there is no direct crime for which international criminal law could hold an individual to account in respect of these children. Consequently, children born of SGBV can only be addressed through legal accountability for the original crime committed against the mother. Drawing on recent jurisprudence from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the cases against of Jean Pierre Bemba and Dominic Ongwen, this paper discusses the complexities of responding to the plight of children born SGBV through international criminal justice processes.
Period27 Jun 201828 Jun 2018
Held atChildren Born of War Children Born of War Initial Training Network , United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational