Unravelling the process of defining war rape and forced marriage in times of armed conflict under the statute of the International Criminal Court
: Actors and structures

  • Hannah Baumeister

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) provisions on sexualised violence are praised as progressive. However, they exclude forced marriage in times of armed conflict, interpreting it as a form of sexual slavery. Furthermore, the ICC rape definition can be interpreted as regressive and awkward. Puzzled by these contradictions, this thesis analyses the process of defining war rape and forced marriage. It focuses on the key actors, their influences, their understandings of war rape and forced marriage, and on how they shaped the definition process. The thesis argues that state and non-state actors drove the ICC negotiations of the two crimes. Their understanding of war rape and forced marriage was influenced by international, national and personal normative structures. Key actors shaped the definition process through research and policy analyses, producing reports and proposals, lobbing, and through serving on state delegations. The thesis stresses that International Law is made by women and men, not by abstract entities. It draws attention to (dis)continuities in international law-making, highlighting developments from a state-centric towards a more inclusive process. Moreover, the priority on international over national and personal normative structures is challenged. Appreciating how the actors in the ICC negotiations reached their understanding of war rape and forced marriage is crucial to understand their positions that shaped the starting point for reflection on the effectiveness of these methods. The aim and potential contribution of this thesis is to deepen the understanding of the ICC negotiations of war rape and forced marriage. By analysing forced marriage in this context, it aims to raise awareness of the crime and hence to contribute towards a better understanding of it. The thesis also highlights relevant factors that need considering when criminalising sexualised war violence under international law.
Date of Award01 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorRyszard Piotrowicz (Supervisor) & Christopher Harding (Supervisor)

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