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April 12, 2023

Ben Ferencz, 1920-2023

Ben Ferencz, 1920-2023.

Ben Ferencz, 1920-2023.

Wikimedia Commons: Adam Jones, 2012.

The Center for Human Rights (CHR) celebrates the life of a champion of justice and human dignity whose achievements are timeless. 

Ben Ferencz, who died April 7 at 103, was the longest-living Nuremberg-era prosecutor, having convicted a score of Nazis for the murders of more than a million souls during the Holocaust.  Among many milestones thereafter, he advocated successfully to institutionalize international criminal justice with the founding of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to secure justice and prevent impunity for the world’s worst crimes.  And he partnered with CHR and others to ensure the new ICC would survive and eventually thrive. Along the way he garnered countless accolades, including the inaugural Eleanor Roosevelt Prize for Global Human Rights Advancement from CHR in 2018 and, last year, the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. 

Beyond admiring his professional greatness as a lawyer and his principled approach to the field of atrocity-crimes accountability, those who knew Ben personally adored his spirited wit, his humble self-deprecation, and his devoted friendship. We are better for having known him, and the world is better for the unshakable mantras that drove him: “Law Not War” and “Never, never give up.”