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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Benjamin B. Ferencz receives Distinguished Honorary Fellowship of the International Criminal Court

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Mayelinne De Lara
Mayelinne De Lara
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On 17 December 2020, Benjamin B. Ferencz was decorated with the title of ‘Distinguished Honorary Fellow of the ICC’ and his bust was unveiled to be housed permanently at the ICC’s premises ©ICC-CPI

On 17 December 2020, Mr Benjamin B. Ferencz, former Prosecutor at Nuremberg in charge of the historic Einsatzgruppen trial was decorated with the title of ‘Distinguished Honorary Fellow of the International Criminal Court’ (“ICC” or the “Court”), during an online event held with ICC Officials and Staff. At the event, a bust of Mr Ferencz was unveiled to be housed permanently at the Court’s premises as ICC Principals praised his extraordinary career and relentless commitment in the service of international criminal justice. 

Benjamin Ferenczpad- On a sunny day in May of 2019, a wooden bench overlooking the Peace Palace was officially presented to a small but distinguished audience. It was a present from Benjamin Ferencz, the last surviving prosecutor of the Nazi crimes to the city of The Hague. 

Speaking at the event, ICC President Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji stated that the honorary title was extended to Mr Ferencz as “a token of the Court’s appreciation for all he has done and what he has stood for as a beacon of light in the fight against impunity for atrocity crimes”. Referring to Mr Ferencz as “a living legend in the field of international criminal law” and an inspiration to many, President Eboe-Osuji said: “At over a 100 years old and counting, you have demonstrated what it means to have real commitment to the cause of international criminal justice and what can be achieved through the power of the individual with clarity of purpose and resolve. Through your advocacy and strength of conviction, fuelled by the horrors you had personally witnessed during the Second World War, you played a crucial role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court. You have since remained a robust defender of the institution appreciating its importance and enduring value to humanity and a more just world.”

In her congratulatory remarks, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda referred to Mr Ferencz as one of her personal heroes and founding fathers of the ICC, stating that “in life, there are those who lead by their example; those whose contagious optimism and sense of purpose bring the seemingly impossible within reach; those who by their very passion defy the laws of nature and do not let age stand in the way of their destiny to do good in the world, where good and leadership are in dire need.  Today, we are in the esteemed company of that iconic trend setter and celebrate his life’s achievements in the pursuit of ‘Law, Not War.’”

In expressing his appreciation to the Court, Mr Ferencz stated: “The ICC, as the court of last resort in a state-dependent system of international justice, offers hope to many who have no hope that their voices will be heard – that they have not been forgotten, and that they are not alone.” He urged universal support for the Court: “protection of human rights demands deterrence of human wrongs, and all nations should strongly support the Court’s efforts in helping to end impunity for crimes of the gravest concern to all humankind.” “Now approaching my 102nd year, I have cherished the goals for which the ICC stands throughout my entire adult life and I give thanks for the torch-bearers who will carry the dream of a more humane world under the rule of law forward, lest we perish from the folly of our failure to do so”, he added.

M. Benjamin B. Ferencz and ICC Officials during the event held online on 17 December 2020 ©ICC-CPI

Mr Benjamin B. Ferencz was the Chief Prosecutor of the Einsatzgruppen trial at Nuremberg (1947), and is a life-long advocate for the establishment of the ICC, who has made major and pioneering contributions to international criminal justice (watch Mr Benjamin Ferencz’s video statement on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute(click here)).

To date, the title of ‘Distinguished Honorary Fellow of the International Criminal Court’ has been bestowed upon Mr Ferencz, the King of Lesotho, His Majesty Letsie III, and the President of the Republic of Cabo Verde, H.E. Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca, on the occasion of their visits to the Court.  

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