Female lawyers are integral to the effective functioning of the ICC. As of January 2010, only 61 of a total of 335 counsel registered to practise before the ICC, are women. Despite the under-representation of women on the List of Counsel, women have already made significant contribution to the ICC’s work since its inception. Notably, the first ever defendant before the ICC, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, is represented by a woman (Maitre Catherine Mabille).
Women lawyers with expertise in gender-based violence can help to ensure effective representation of victims of sexual crimes. Currently, a number of African women lawyers are representing victims before the ICC. For example, Carine Bapita represents victims in the case against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Marie Edith Douzima-Lawson appears for victims in the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba and Hélène Cissé represented victims in the case against Mr Bahr Idriss Abu Garda.
A unique opportunity for women
Practicing at the ICC presents a unique opportunity for female lawyers, especially those from countries with situations under investigation, to meaningfully contribute to international criminal justice. The ICC List Counsel provides a unique opportunity for women lawyers practising at the national level to receive training, develop key legal skills and networking opportunities in the field of international criminal law and the ICC. This training can also be utilised in national legal systems, a clear example of positive complementarity at work.