In March 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) rendered a guilty verdict against Jean-Pierre Bemba, ex-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, for his involvement in operations in the Central African Republic from 2002 to 2004. He was found guilty in his capacity as military commander of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The decision is the first by the ICC to address sexual violence as a weapon of war and in the context of command responsibility. This article assesses the Bemba decision from a feminist perspective. Key normative developments have occurred in the substantive international criminal law surrounding sexual violence, and the guilty verdict against Jean-Pierre Bemba represents an effective implementation of international criminal law. However, in light of major feminist concerns that arise in international law on sexual violence, the encouraging developments in the judgement occur mostly at the implementation level, leaving much to be done in terms of gender conceptualization and norm-setting.
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