Although the Rome Statute was the first international criminal law instrument to expressly include crimes of sexual violence, since its adoption there has been limited accountability for conflict-related sexual violence. One of the barriers is a lack of a clear definition of what makes violence sexual. Simply put, the definition in the Elements of Crimes is circular: ‘sexual violence’ is essentially defined as an act of violence that is of a sexual nature. This can create a disparity between how sexual violence is perceived and experienced by victims and how it is adjudicated, as well as inconsistent jurisprudence.
The Impact Group’s first project will be to create a working definition of sexual violence in the context of International Criminal Justice. In doing so, the Impact Group will seek to advance the Women's Initiative for Gender Justice (WIGJ) "Call it what it is" campaign. WIGJ is seeking to develop an extensively researched and consulted civil society declaration, which would include a non-exhaustive list of actions that constitute sexual violence, for potential inclusion in the Elements of Crime.