Costa Rica joins global initiative to promote gender parity in international courts and bodies

New York, March 16, 2016.- The president of the Republic of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, today joined GQUAL, a global campaign that seeks to promote gender parity in courts and international bodies, making him the first head of State to sign the initiative.

His signature will be added a list that includes Costa Rica’s second Vice President, Ana Helena Chacón, the Minister for the Status of Women, Alejandra Mora, and Judge Elizabeth Odio of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, all of whom joined the GQUAL Declaration, a document establishing the main strategies and objectives of the campaign to achieve the gender equality in international representation. In total, more than 1,000 people from over 80 countries around the world have supported the goals of the campaign, including representatives of States, members of international bodies and courts, prominent academics, activists, lawyers, judges, and human rights defenders.

The Costa Rican President stated that “it is an honor for Costa Rica to lead this initiative and to commit ourselves to advancing gender equality in international courts and bodies, a commitment that is also part of the sustainable development goals adopted within the framework of the United Nations. In addition, our country has led efforts to promote the election of a woman to the post of Secretary General of the UN.”

Women are under-represented in almost all international courts and bodies, as well as in monitoring mechanisms. In its 70 years of existence, the United Nations’ International Court of Justice has had only four female judges among its 106 members; in its present composition, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has only one female judge among its seven members; and the International Criminal Court took a step back, from achieving gender parity to now having women represent only one third of its members. In addition, 19 of the 52 special procedures of the UN, comprising independent experts and rapporteurs, have never been occupied by a woman.

President Solís Rivera signed the GQUAL Declaration within the framework of the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations Headquarters. The Costa Rican Minister for the Status of Women, Alejandra Mora, participated as a panelist at the Forum on the gender parity in international representation organized by GQUAL and co-sponsored by the Mission of Costa Rica to the United Nations.

“We have accompanied the campaign since its inception because Costa Rica has a strong commitment to the promotion of women’s equality. Increasing the participation of women in international representation is an important task which we, as member states must join,” said Minister Alejandra Mora.

“We congratulate Costa Rica for affirming its commitment to equality and greater representation of women at the international level. States play a fundamental role in promoting gender parity in international courts and protection bodies because they have influence, through the nomination and voting processes, in the final composition of these bodies,” said Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and spokesperson for the GQUAL campaign.

The campaign is seeks a commitment from States to take gender parity into account when nominating and voting for international positions, as well as the development of mechanisms, guidelines and standards to achieve selection processes that include gender considerations.