UN Women, 1st reparation order issued by International Criminal Court

Landmark ruling paves the way for strengthening women’s access to justice for conflict-related crimes.

United Nations, New York — The ruling made by the International Criminal Court this week regarding reparations to victims in the case of convicted former Congolese militia commander Thomas Lubanga reflects a growing recognition in international law that justice must go beyond mere prosecutions and a focus on perpetrators to include an equal focus on victims’ rights to redress and reparation.

This is the first time that the ICC has ruled on reparations and UN Women welcomes the inclusion of explicitly strong language on aspects of gender-sensitivity and women’s inclusion.

UN Women’s Deputy Executive Director, Lakshmi Puri, says this ruling sets a precedent for future court decisions.

“As a mechanism of justice, reparations are of particular importance for women victims of conflict,” says Ms.Puri. “Reparations have the potential to provide recognition of women’s rights as equal citizens, acknowledgement of the harm suffered, as well as a concrete contribution towards victim’s recovery,” she says.

In the past, reparation programmes have tended to marginalize and exclude women, who should be primary beneficiaries. The principles pronounced by the ICC in the Lubanga case will make a significant contribution to overcoming some of these deficiencies and in particular to strengthening women’s access to justice for conflict-related crimes. In particular, the decision notes the need for specific attention to be paid to the needs of survivors of sexual and gender based crimes, emphasizes that “gender parity in all aspects of reparations is an important goal of the Court” and lays out innovative recommendations regarding overcoming administrative obstacles faced by women, such as possession of formal identification documents.

Many of the recommendations detailed by the Court form the basis for UN Women’s own efforts to support and strengthen reparations programmes and ensure they are delivered in a way that benefits women.

UN Women in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is currently finalizing guidelines on reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. These guidelines will build upon and make recommendations to operationalize the important principles established by the ICC. UN Women is also working with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to sensitize development practitioners involved in justice processes to the needs of women and to support the delivery of reparations that have a substantive impact on victim’s lives, particularly those of women and girls.


The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. Created by the UN General Assembly in July 2010, UN Women became operational on 1st January 2011, and supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to implement these standards.

It stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on five priority areas: increasing women’s leadership and participation; ending violence against women; engaging women in all aspects of peace and security processes; enhancing women’s economic empowerment; making gender equality central to national development planning and budgeting; and increasing coordination and accountability across the UN system for gender equality.

Media Contact: Mandy Kibel , +1 646 781-4522 , mandy.kibel[at]unwomen.org

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