Exploring the Development of International Criminal Case Law on Sexual Violence under the Responsibility of Superiors


The outbreak of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda has lent new urgency to the issue of sexual violence in international criminal law. There was no established case law to draw upon in this field; rape and sexual violence were not among the charges in the Nuremberg Trials. 

Protection of a person’s sexual self-determination is a part of individual integrity, sexual development, and human dignity, and as such is firmly embedded in the criminal codes of every society that respects the principles of human rights.

In light of the events in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the challenge lay in codifying the characterizing elements of rape and sexual violence on an international level, so that these acts can ultimately be brought before the International Criminal Courts.

The Nuremberg Academy conducted a study on how international criminal case law has evolved with regard to the definition of sexual violence in conflicts.