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Benjamin Ferencz

Benjamin Ferencz

Benjamin Berell Ferencz is a lawyer and human rights activist. He was one of the investigators working to hold the Nazis accountable for the crimes committed during World War II and acted as Chief Prosecutor for the US Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial held in Nuremberg, Germany. Benjamin Ferencz has dedicated his life to fighting for human rights and global peace, making it his mission to promote the establishment of an international rule of law.

Ferencz’s family emigrated to the US from Romania when he was just 10 months old. He grew up in New York and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1943. After that, he joined the Army and was deployed in Europe where he participated in the liberation of the German concentration camps. That experience has profoundly affected Benjamin Ferencz, determining the course of his future life and career.

Weeks after being discharged he was recruited again to participate as a prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials, where he was appointed Chief Prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen Case. All of the 22 men on trial were convicted. Benjamin Ferencz also helped develop and implement the rehabilitation programs for people persecuted by the Nazi regime and played a role in the negotiations that led to the Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany signed in 1952.

After leaving private law practice, he dedicated all his efforts to promoting world peace, actively campaigning for the establishment of an International Criminal Court that would serve as a global court for war crimes and other atrocities. He authored and published several books on the subject, including Defining International Aggression: The Search for World Peace (1975), An International Criminal Court: A Step Toward World Peace (1980) and Enforcing International Law: A Way to World Peace (1983). He has also written A Common Sense Guide to World Peace (1985) and Planethood: The Key to Your Future (1988).

Ferencz remains active in many peace and international law organizations. He is Professor Emeritus at Pace Law School where he founded a Peace Center and taught “The International Law of Peace.” In 2019, Benjamin Ferencz joined the Aurora Prize Selection Committee as its Honorary Co-Chair.

 

THE AURORA PRIZE SELECTION COMMITTEE

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Elie Wiesel (1928 – 2016)

First Co-Chair

President of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; Nobel Laureate

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Lord Ara Darzi

Chair

Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London

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George Clooney

Honorary Co-Chair

Co-founder, The Sentry; Humanitarian, performer and film maker

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Benjamin Ferencz

Honorary Co-Chair

Lawyer, Human Rights Activist

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Shirin Ebadi

Member

Human Rights Lawyer and Iran's first female judge; Nobel Laureate

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Leymah Gbowee

Member

Nobel Laureate, Liberian peace activist and women’s rights advocate

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Vartan Gregorian
(1934 - 2021)

Member

Co-founder, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York

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Hina Jilani

Member

Former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders

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Bernard Kouchner

Member

Co-founder, Médecins Sans Frontières; Former French Foreign Minister

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Paul Polman

Member

Co-founder and Chair, IMAGINE

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John Prendergast

Member

Human Rights Activist and Co-founder, The Sentry

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Mary Robinson

Member

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Former President of Ireland

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Ernesto Zedillo

Member

Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization; Former President of Mexico

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Oscar Arias

Honorary Member

Two-time President of Costa Rica; Nobel Laureate

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Valery Gergiev

Honorary Member

Artistic and General Director, Mariinsky Theatre; Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmoniker

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Gareth Evans

Honorary Member

President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group; Former Australian Foreign Minister

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Elie Wiesel (1928 – 2016)

First Co-Chair

President of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; Nobel Laureate

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Lord Ara Darzi

Chair

Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London