On June 16, Fatou Bensouda will assume office as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Her landmark appointment makes Bensouda not only the second chief prosecutor at the ICC, but the first African woman to assume the top position at an international tribunal. Just yesterday, Bensouda was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Bensouda has spent decades as a prominent civil servant and gender rights advocate. Originally from The Gambia, she studied law in Nigeria before returning to The Gambia as the country’s first maritime law expert. She began her international career during the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served as Senior Legal Advisor and Head of the Legal Advisory Unit. In 2004, Bensouda was elected as the ICC Deputy Prosecutor by an overwhelming margin. She served in this capacity for eight years under Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Throughout her career, and more specifically as prosecutor for the ICC, Bensouda has made gender-based violence and sexual violence a priority, and often emphasizes that the world must recognize gender-based violence as a crime against humanity. She recently spoke at the American Society of International Law on the ways the ICC focuses on prosecuting sexual crimes and crimes against children and women. “We are taking it very seriously… [gender based violence] must be investigated and prosecuted,” Bensouda said.
We offer our heartfelt congratulations on her appointment as Chief Prosecutor and anticipate a very successful term in office.