It is with deep sadness that the Tribunal has learned of the passing away of Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, Honorary President of the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights in Italy, and Emeritus Professor of Law at DePaul University in Chicago.
Professor Bassiouni was renowned throughout the international community as a driving force of international criminal law and as an unremitting investigator of human rights violations, who possessed an exceptionally humane demeanor. Since 1975, Professor Bassiouni held various positions with the United Nations.
Professor Bassiouni’s contributions led to the creation of the ICTY – the first international criminal tribunal since Nuremberg and Tokyo. Professor Bassiouni in 1992-1994, served as Chairman of the United Nations Security Council Commission to Investigate Human Rights Violations in the former Yugoslavia. The Commission’s first report urged the Security Council to establish a tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. As a result, Security Council Resolution 827 (1993) establishing the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia referred in one of its operative paragraphs to the Commission’s recommendation as a basis for establishing the Tribunal.
The Commission’s report is the longest published report submitted to the Security Council. His work is reflected in his recent book entitled ‘Investigating War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia War 1992-1994’ which he dedicated to the victims of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia: “Conflicts like these are not only about numbers they are about individual human beings, each one to be distinguished from the others.” At the Tribunal’s final Legacy Conference held this year in Sarajevo from 22-24 June, the ICTY organised a special panel to launch Professor Bassiouni’s book in recognition of his extraordinary work.
Professor Bassiouni passed away yesterday in Chicago, at the age of 79. His profound legal expertise and his kindness will be deeply missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him and everyone who is committed to international justice.