International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda selected for prestigious humanitarian award
Cox International Humanitarian Award for Advancing Global Justice will be presented Aug. 29 at Case Western Reserve University School of Law
CLEVELAND – Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda of The Gambia receives the Cox International Humanitarian Award for Advancing Global Justice Aug. 29 at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
At 4:30 p.m. that day, she will provide her reflections on her prosecution experiences at the ICC and the direction she intends to take the court’s cases. She was sworn in on June 15 to serve a nine-year term as ICC chief prosecutor.
Time Magazine called Bensouda "the new face of international justice."
The ICC was established in 2002 to prosecute perpetrators of the most serious international crimes. Although the United States is not one of the 121 states that are party to the ICC, it has supported United Nations Security Council referrals of the Libya and Sudan situations to that court and has provided assistance to it.
Bensouda assumes her position as expectations for international justice are growing and the ICC celebrates its 10th anniversary.
A recently concluded landmark ICC case in The Hague that drew worldwide attention was the conviction on April 26, 2012, of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Taylor was tried before the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Other significant cases are ahead. The ICC is exercising its jurisdiction in seven "situations" -- Congo, Central African Republic, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Libya, with seven other countries subject to preliminary investigations. Diplomatic interest is building for a U.N. Security Council referral to the ICC of the violent conflict in Syria.
“The International Criminal Court is facing enormous challenges,” said Case Western Reserve University School of Law Associate Dean for Global Legal Studies Michael P. Scharf, the John Deaver Drinko - Baker and Hostetler professor of law. He has supervisory responsibility over the international law centers, institutes, and programs at Case Western Reserve’s law school.
Scharf said the ICC is now “in the midst of a legal tug of war with Libya,” which does not want to surrender Saif Gaddafi to the court. Similarly, the Ivory Coast has declined to surrender Simone Gbagbo, wife of its former president, despite the ICC's warrant for her arrest.
Meanwhile, Omar Al Bashir of the Sudan has been hopscotching around Africa despite the ICC's indictment of the Sudanese leader for committing genocide in Darfur, Scharf said.
Prosecutor Bensouda has been hailed as the ideal person to tackle these challenges. She is the first African to hold the position and the first woman. She replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Scharf said she has the right temperament for the job.
“She just exudes this warmth that Ocampo didn’t have,” Scharf said. “I think that will be her secret weapon.”
Before taking over as chief prosecutor, Bensouda had been deputy prosecutor of the ICC since 2004,in charge of the Prosecution Division of the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor. Earlier, Bensouda worked as a legal adviser and trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, rising to senior legal adviser and head of The Legal Advisory Unit.
Before joining the ICTR, she served in a number of offices in The Gambia, including as solicitor general and attorney general. She holds a master’s degree in International Maritime Law and Law of The Sea.
Established in 2003, the Cox International Humanitarian Award for Advancing Global Justice has been presented to the Hon. Philippe Kirsch, president, International Criminal Court; Ambassador Hans Corell, U.N. under-secretary-general for legal affairs; Judge Thomas Buergenthal, International Court of Justice; Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor, International Criminal Court; Robert Petit, International Prosecutor, Khmer Rouge Tribunal; U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Judge Navanethem Pillay; Brenda Hollis, prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Stephen J. Rapp, U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes Issues, Deptartment of State.
Each year, the person honored is selected by the Case Western Reserve University School of Law’s International Law faculty.