Sexual Slavery and the International Criminal Court: Advancing International Law

This Article explores the advancement of the international crime of sexual slavery, from its initial inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court through further development in the delineation of the ICC’s Elements of Crime document. This Article begins with a detailed exploration of the negotiation process that led to the inclusion of the crime of sexual slavery in the Rome Statute. The first Section describes the decision to include both sexual slavery and enforced prostitution as crimes, as well as the debate on listing sexual slavery as a crime separate from that of enslavement. Next, the Section turns to the listing of sexual slavery as a crime against humanity in the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. The second Section begins with the history of the drafting of the elements for sexual slavery in the Elements of Crime. This Section outlines various debates, such as those related to pecuniary exchange as an aspect of either slavery or enforced prostitution. Criticism of the elements of crime for sexual slavery is then explored. The third and final Section compares the approaches of the ICC and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia with respect to the crime of sexual slavery. The Article concludes by noting that the inclusion of sexual slavery in two important legal documents-the Rome Statute and the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone-marks a turning point in the overt recognition of a particular form of slavery affecting many people worldwide, especially women and girls.