Monday, October 24, 2011

Antonio Cassese, A Giant of International Law, Has Died in Italy

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to Judge Antonio Cassese, a renowned legal expert who died on Saturday, calling him "a giant of international law" and a loyal friend to the United Nations.

Judge Cassese, who also taught international law to generations of students around the world, passed away at his home in the Italian city of Florence at the age of 74.  He had a long and distinguished career, during which he assisted the United Nations in a number of capacities. He was the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the first President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. He stepped down from the latter post recently due to illness. He also reviewed the judicial efficiency of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), and led the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur.

"In these and many other functions Antonio Cassese shaped the development of international criminal justice and made a major contribution to fighting impunity and bringing about an age of accountability," Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.  "The United Nations will fondly remember Antonio Cassese as a giant of international law, as a loyal friend who was always there when the Organization needed his wise counsel and dedicated services, and mostly as an exceptionally charming and warm human being who courageously stood up for justice, for human rights and for humanity," the statement added.

(UN Press Release)

The Board of the International Law Students Association (ILSA), which was meeting on Saturday when news of Professor Cassese's death was announced, adopted a special resolution remembering his life and his many contributions to the field of international law and international criminal law in particular.

Click here for more information (in Italian) on Prof. Cassese.




Tributes continued to flow in on Monday for Judge Antonio Cassese, first president of both the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the Balkan wars of the 1990s and the UN-backed special court created to try the suspects in the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

Judge Cassese, who died on Friday, “has always been at the forefront of international criminal justice,” International Criminal Court (ICC) President Sang-Hyun Song said in a statement. “All of us who work in the field of international criminal law shall remain greatly indebted to him.”

The president of UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), Jon M. Kamanda, recalled Judge Cassese’s work as an independent expert looking at the challenges faced by that court, including the need to prepare a completion strategy. “Other tribunals will also build on Judge Cassese’s legacy as they too complete their work,” he said.

(UN Press Release)

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