Florence Ndepele Mwachande Mumba

Interview conducted 25 May 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands, by Susana SáCouto.

headshot of florence mumbaBackground

Interview Content

In her interview, Judge Mumba reminisces about her time as a student and young lawyer before being elected as the first female judge at the Zambian High Court in 1980; her role in proposing rape as a war crime and as a crime against humanity in the statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1993; and tackling issues pertaining to rape as a formal crime in the first case she presided, the Furundžija case.

She discusses the higher standards for international criminal responsibility under international law; the issues faced by the Witness Unit in convincing women to testify who were frightened by the stigma of rape; the determination that women who were labeled "girlfriends" by the accused were not capable of voluntarily acting due to the situation of duress; the exemplified principles of Command Responsibility as seen in the Kubura and Hadžihasanović cases; and the legacy of the tribunals in demonstrating that political power for elected officials is not absolute and will not go unpunished if abused.

read full transcript of interview

Biographical Information

Florence Ndepele Mwachande Mumba was born 1948 in Zambia. She received a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Zambia in 1972 and worked as legal counsel in Zambia from 1973 to 1980. In October 1980, she was the first woman to be appointed High Court judge in Zambia. She acted as a representative of Zambia at the Conference on Women in 1985 and the African Regional Conference on Women in 1994. As a member of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, she participated in drafting a resolution to the General Assembly, in early 1992, to have rape included as a war crime in the jurisdiction of war crimes tribunals.

Mumba served on the International Ombudsman Institute Board from 1992 to 1996, acting as vice-president during the final two years of her tenure. In 1997, she was appointed to the Supreme Court in Zambia. She served as commissioner on the International Commission of Jurists, 1994 to 2003. As commissioner, she participated in drafting the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the establishment of the African Court of Justice in 1995. As a Commonwealth Secretariat expert, she participated in drafting a Constitution amendment for the establishment of a national ombudsman for The Gambia, 1993.

In 1997, Mumba was elected judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). She served as vice president of the ICTY from 1999 to 2001. From 2003 to 2005, she served on the ICTY / ICTR Appeals Chamber. She was appointed to the African Union High Panel on Darfur in 2009. In the same year, she was appointed reserve judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. She now serves on the Supreme Court Chamber as a full-time judge.