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The Biggest Murder Trial in History: The Evolution and Status of International Criminal Law

SKU: INT001
Total Credits
1.5 - 2
Price$100
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Description

Prosecuting crimes against peace and humanity was not invented at Nuremberg in 1945. Since ancient days, the legality of war itself and how wars were waged had been debated by renowned scholars from Plato to Grotius. Over 200 years ago, Immanuel Kant’s Zum Ewigen Frieden called for the protection of peace and human rights through the rule of international law. Instructor Benjamin Ferencz offers an insightful perspective as Chief Prosecutor for the United States in what the Associated Press called "the biggest murder trial in history." Twenty-two defendants were charged with murdering over a million people. He was only twenty-seven years old. It was his first case. All of the defendants were convicted. Thirteen were sentenced to death. The verdict was hailed as a great success for the prosecution. Ferencz's primary objective had been to establish a legal precedent that would encourage a more humane and secure world in the future.


With the coming of the 1990s and the end of the Cold War, the international community finally proved ready to discuss seriously the possibility of establishing an international criminal court, and Ferencz remained a voice of optimism. When the Rome Statute was affirmed by vote in 1998, Ferencz addressed the Conference asserting that “an international criminal court - the missing link in the world legal order - is within our grasp.” Since Rome, Ferencz has been active at Preparatory Commission sessions for the ICC, monitoring and making available his expertise on current efforts to define aggression. Ferencz has continued to mobilize support for the ICC, take on media punditries and inform an oft-misinformed media about the ICC. With the progress that has been made since Rome, Ferencz’s goal of replacing the “rule of force with the rule of law” seems imminent.

Lecturer Bio

Benjamin B. Ferencz, Esq.

After he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1943, Ben Ferencz joined an anti-aircraft artillery battalion preparing for the invasion of France. As an enlisted man under General Patton, he fought in every campaign in Europe. As Nazi atrocities were uncovered, he was transferred to a newly created War Crimes Branch of the Army to gather evidence of Nazi brutality and apprehend the criminals. Ferencz became Chief Prosecutor for the United States in what the Associated Press called "the biggest murder trial in history."

His book Defining International Aggression-The Search for World Peace was published in 1975. It seemed to him that there was little sense in denouncing aggression, terrorism, and other crimes against humanity unless these offenses became part of an accepted international criminal code enforced by an international court. He wrote another two-volume documentary history, An International Criminal Court-A Step Toward World Peace, which was published in 1980. It was intended to be a tool that nations could use to build a structure for peace. Mr. Ferencz lives with his wife, Gertrude, in Florida and New York. They have four grown children. He continues to write and speak worldwide for international law and global peace.



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