In Memoriam:  Cherif Bassiouni, International Criminal Law and Human Rights Champion

Prof. Cherif Bassiouni as a United Nations expert on human rights in Afghanistan. Photo: Wikipedia

It is with great sadness that members of ILAC learn of the death of Professor Cherif Bassiouni, who died peacefully at home on 25 September 2017.

Cherif Bassiouni played an influential role in a series of seminars in the late ‘90s that discussed the setting up of ILAC. He was at that time the immensely respected Professor of Law at the DePaul University College of Law.

But he was much more than a legal academic, having served with distinction on a number of United Nations Commissions, notably chairing the Commission of Experts charged with investigating violations of Humanitarian Law in former Yugoslavia, which led to the setting up of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY).  Cherif went on to chair various UN Committees that brought into being the International Criminal Court. More recently he led the Bahrain International Commission of Inquiry and the UN Commission of Inquiry for Libya.

Cherif’s expertise and standing made him a powerful advocate when the idea of ILAC was being discussed at the seminars supported by the Stanley Foundation that led to ILAC’s inaugural conference at Saltsjöbaden, Sweden in December 2000.

Cherif was born in Cairo and, after earning his LLB at Cairo University, immigrated to the United States in 1962. By 1964 he was teaching at DePaul University, which was to be the centre of his academic life until 2009. Cherif was a visiting Professor at universities in USA, Germany and Egypt. He founded the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul and the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences.

His academic achievements, together with his important and lasting contributions to justice in troubled parts of the world, led to numerous honorary degrees and awards from many countries. In 2013, Professor Bassiouni was selected to receive the Stockholm Human Rights Award, an annual award presented by the International Bar Association, the Swedish Bar Association and ILAC for extraordinary achievements in the field of human rights.

Ever a friend and supporter of ILAC, Cherif will be missed greatly.