“Hope is the engine that drives human endeavor. It generates the energy needed to achieve the difficult goals that lie ahead. Never lose faith that the dreams of today for a more lawful world can become the reality of tomorrow. Never stop trying to make this a more humane universe.” – Ben Ferencz

Caption: Ben Ferencz with NAPF President Emeritus, David Kreiger. April, 2017

We mourn the passing of and pay tribute to long-time Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s distinguished member of the Advisory Council, Mr. Ben Ferencz, whose contributions to peace and the rule of international law cannot be emphasized enough. Mr. Ferencz passed away on Apr 7, 2023.

Ferencz was the Chief Prosecutor for the United States at the Nuremberg war crime trials against the SS extermination squads, consisting of 22 Nazi criminals and responsible for the genocidal murder of over a million innocent victims.

Following the trials, Ferencz devoted his energy to participating in campaigns to establish an international criminal court with the power to enforce judgments, especially in lieu of an international legal order to enforce the rule of law and respect for human rights. In 2014, Ben Ferencz supported the NAPF initiative, Nuclear Zero Lawsuits by the Marshall Islands against nine-nuclear armed nations. At the time, Ferencz noted, “Current nuclear expenditures and policies are genocidal, suicidal and insane. The use of nuclear weapons, knowing that large numbers of civilians will be killed, is a crime against humanity for which responsible leaders would be held accountable, civilly and criminally, in a national or international criminal court.”

In addition to envisioning the future of a global order through the UN that would be able to take up the challenges of the 21st century, Ferencz’s publications have widely impacted how institutions implement and think about peace in the context of international law.

Members of the NAPF community remember Ferencz fondly and with affection.

“He was an amazing person, unshaken in his commitment to accountability and a law-governed world, and remarkable in his resilience over the course of decades.” – Richard Falk, NAPF Senior Vice President.

“We had the pleasure of meeting him at the foundation, as I recall, when he was 99. He was delightful to talk to, with a marvelous sense of humor. In addition to being a prosecutor at Nuremberg, he helped found the International Criminal Court (ICC). “There is nothing inevitable about war or peace” he had written, “whether we survive or not depends on us.” The last point he made to us at the conclusion of his remarks was: “Never give up! Never!” – Frank Bognar, NAPF Chair.

NAPF Director of Communications, Sandy Jones, remembers Mr. Ferencz,

“He was on NAPF’s Advisory Council and came to the Foundation for a small gathering in 2017. He shared with us his inspiring story, his optimism and belief in the goodness of mankind. He was a great man, and a great friend to the Foundation who will be sorely missed.”

Dr. Ivana Nikolić Hughes, NAPF President, adds, “Although I never had the chance to meet Mr. Ferencz, reading and hearing about him and his contributions has been deeply inspiring to me. It is people like Mr. Ferencz that have paved the way to a better world and shown us how much we can all accomplish both individually and collectively. Humanity is still in need of saving, and that is what all of us at NAPF will continue to do, while being guided by Mr. Ferencz and his commitment to a just and peaceful world.”