Our History


Founding of the Global Justice Center

Trailblazing attorney and gender equality activist Janet Benshoof founds the Global Justice Center. GJC’s logo is designed to represent the inequality between the percentage of women in the world’s population and their corresponding representation in governments worldwide.


Forming key partnerships

We develop key partnerships with women’s groups in Myanmar and Iraq, including Women for Democracy in Iraq and the Women’s League of Burma, to support them in their calls for justice and accountability, particularly for sexual violence in conflict.


Establishing projects across the globe

We train over 50 judges and individuals associated with the Iraqi High Tribunal on international law and crimes of sexual violence. The training marked the first time in Iraq that women leaders and judges met together to speak about honor killings and rape.

Joining the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security

The New York-based group centers women’s voices and experiences at the UN Security Council in peace processes, peacebuilding, and peacekeeping operations.


GJC makes it official!

We officially become a registered 501(c)(3) and independent NGO.


Organizing a global campaign to end impunity in Myanmar

We organize a global campaign with partners from Myanmar’s diaspora to end impunity and ensure criminal accountability, holding events across the globe, including in Delhi, San Francisco, London, and New York.

Training Iraqi judges

We brought a coalition of judges from Iraq, including Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT) President Judge Arif, to Washington D.C., where they met with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In 2007, including as a result of GJC’s trainings, the IHT issued a judgment in the Anfal case, finding that the rape of Kurdish women amounted to genocide and torture.


Leading the way on Myanmar’s constitution

We produce a legal analysis of Myanmar’s military-drafted Constitution, highlighting how the Constitution is a structural barrier to democratic transition in the country. While most actors ignored our analysis at the time, choosing instead to portray Myanmar as a democratic success story, our arguments later proved prescient when the military instrumentalized the Constitution and seized power in a coup in 2021.


Pursuing progressive legal standards on sexual violence in conflict

We join the Women’s League of Burma and the Nobel Women’s Initiative to organize the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women of Burma in New York, where 12 brave women testified to their experiences and violations at the hands of Myanmar’s military.

We pioneered the legal argument that abortion is necessary, non-discriminatory medical care under international humanitarian law for victims of sexual violence in conflict. This legal interpretation has now been recognized by leading UN actors and agencies, countries, and partner NGOs, and helped to shift the framework in the


GJC forges ahead at the UN

We receive Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status at the UN, allowing us to amplify our direct advocacy with UN policymakers and agencies.


Campaign to secure abortion for victims of rape in war

We launch the August 12th Campaign, calling on President Obama to issue an executive order that would allow US foreign aid to be used to provide abortion services for rape victims in war. This call was supported by a diverse international coalition, and featured in the New York Times.


UN Security Council and Secretary General calls for access to abortion for rape victims in conflict

In a first, the UN Security Council issued two resolutions, 2106 and 2122, calling for the provision of sexual and reproductive health care, including safe abortion services, for women and girls raped in war.

The UN Secretary-General in his report on women, peace, and security recognizes GJC’s argument that abortion is protected under international humanitarian law and calls for it to be ensured in humanitarian aid.


UK changes policy on abortion for victims of rape in war

Citing Security Council Resolution 2122, the United Kingdom becomes the first country to explicitly recognize that abortion is protected care under the Geneva Conventions for women affected by conflict.


EU changes policy on abortion for victims of rape in war

The EU changes its policy on abortion and sexual violence in conflict to reflect our legal argument that abortion is protected care under the Geneva Conventions. 

By 2015, in the five years since we launched our campaign to ensure abortion access for war rape victims, the right is recognized by multiple national governments, the UN Security Council, and the UN Secretary-General, ushering in a norm shift in how abortion is considered in humanitarian contexts.


Demanding justice for the Yazidi

We support our Yazidi partners, Yazda and the Free Yezidi Foundation, by urging the International Criminal Court to investigate ISIS’s crimes against Yazidi women and girls as genocide, as well as a full range of gender crimes including forcible transfer, rape, torture, enslavement, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, and forced abortions.

Fighting for gender equality in Myanmar

In Geneva, we join partners from Myanmar to engage with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Our joint report with the Gender Equality Network outlined structural barriers to gender equality in Myanmar, and built on our signature 2015 publication Promises Not Progress: Burma’s National Plan for Women Falls Short of Gender Equality and CEDAW, published joinylu with the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice.

Gendering international humanitarian law

We participate in the World Humanitarian Summit, including by hosting an event “Making IHL Work for Women and Girls” featuring Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom.


Brain trust on gender and genocide

We convene a brain trust of international legal experts and practitioners to examine the difficulties of translating genocide law into a contemporary context, with a particular focus on the gendered crimes of genocide. This brain trust is the launch of GJC’s “Gender & Genocide” project drawing on our work in Iraq from the Saddam-era trials, as well as ISIS’s genocide of the Yezidi.

GJC Founder Janet Benshoof dies

Janet passes away suddenly at the age of 70 after a short battle with cancer.

At her memorial, GJC staff past and present gathered to celebrate her trailblazing life and work. You can learn more about Janet here.


Akila Radhakrishnan becomes president

Akila takes over as president of the Global Justice Center shortly after Janet’s passing. She vows to carry forward the feminist vision of her mentor.

Beyond Killing: Gender and Genocide

We publish our seminal report, Beyond Killing: Gender, Genocide, & Obligations Under International Law.

The report provides the first comprehensive legal analysis of the role of gender in genocide. It builds on our analysis of the Yezidi genocide, as well as the September 2018 publication on the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, “Discrimination to Destruction: A Legal Analysis of Gender Crimes against the Rohingya.”

A new treaty on crimes against humanity

In a submission to the International Law Commission, we stress the need to integrate a gender perspective into the draft treaty on crimes against humanity and calls for a “gender audit” of the treaty.


Briefing the UN Security Council

GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan briefs the UN Security Council on accountability for conflict-related sexual violence. From Myanmar to Syria, she spoke of the crime’s root cause as an expression of discrimination, patriarchy, and inequality.

Genocide case against Myanmar announced

We join The Gambia as it announces its intent to file a lawsuit against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice over the genocide of the Rohingya at an event during the UN General Assembly in September 2019.

GJC in The Hague

We travel to The Hague in November 2019 for the official filing of The Gambia’s genocide case at the International Court of Justice, and again in December 2019 for hearings on The Gambia’s request for emergency “provisional measures” in the case. GJC worked with partners to center the voices of the Rohingya community and gendered experiences around these hearings.


Myanmar ordered to prevent genocide against Rohingya

In a historic ruling, the International Court of Justice grants provisional measures and orders Myanmar to prevent genocide against the Rohingya. GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan is a featured guest on BBC World News to explain the impact of the ruling and case.

Suing Trump

We join partners to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration over Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s “Commission on Unalienable Rights.” The commission was created to erode human rights standards, in particular reproductive rights and LGBTQI rights, ignoring decades of international progress and threatening to undermine human rights protections for some of the most vulnerable people across the world.


A coup in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military seized power following election results that signaled widespread public opposition to military dominance. We join partners in Myanmar and human rights activists around the world in condemning the coup and urging a swift international response.

GJC outlines its strategic vision

We launch our 5-Year Strategic Framework, which outlines our vision for progress on three core issues: sexual and gender-based violence, abortion rights, and feminist multilateralism.

US Supreme Court hears case aiming to overturn Roe v. Wade

The US Supreme Court holds hearings in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case threatening to overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent establishing the constitutional right to abortion in the US. We filed an amicus brief in the case on the US’s international human rights obligations as they relate to abortion and joined allies for a rally in front of the court.  


GJC supports first conviction of the crime of forced pregnancy

GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan delivered a presentation to the International Criminal Court on the crime of forced pregnancy. The presentation was part of hearings on the appeal of Ugandan war criminal Dominic Ongwen, and it followed our submission of an amicus brief with partners in the case, where the appeals chamber upheld the first conviction of forced pregnancy in the court’s history.


International committee condemns US abortion bans as racially discriminatory

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the US to take all necessary measures to protect abortion access following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs. The committee found that the decision had a disproportionate impact on the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

GJC and partners filed a submission with the committee detailing how abortion restrictions are a form of racial discrimination.


Urging UN experts to act to protect US abortion rights

We led partners in a submission to United Nations experts that urged them to act in response to the Dobbs ruling.

The letter included original research and testimony from medical practitioners across the US. This research was compiled in a separate brief, “Human Rights Crisis: Abortion in the United States After Dobbs.”