What is it about?

This thesis examines a hitherto underexplored legal history chapter in international criminal law pioneer Benjamin Ferencz's career – his work with atrocity victims – and, based on that, it offers fixes for problems in the current atrocity victim law framework, such as providing for victim-oriented investigations, bifurcated retribution/restitution processes, bilateral treaty funding, transnational victim networking, and charging illegal use of force as crimes against humanity.

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Why is it important?

Although the existing literature on atrocity victims’ justice has dealt with some of its problems in a fragmentary way, this thesis will provide an interconnected set of historical yard-markers and policy prescriptions that will put the current law in its proper context, and then solve its various problems holistically. At the same time, it will give the normative recommendations real-world grounding by linking them to the historical innovations of Ferencz’s successful victim practice over the decades.


As I am currently writing Benjamin Ferencz's authorized biography ("Law Not War: Benjamin Ferencz and the Birth of International Justice"), writing this article was gratifying as it encapsulated the legal aspects of a crucial segment of Ferencz's career -- victim justice pioneer. Thus, it is a rich blend of legal history and policy prescriptions that I hope readers will find narratively fascinating and (potentially) normatively transformative. Victims are the center of the international justice enterprise but they are not being properly served. Ferencz's history and example can inform us/inspire us so that the global justice community can overcome these problems.

Gregory Gordon
The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

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This page is a summary of: Benjamin Ferencz and the Treatment of Victims in International Criminal Law: Mapping Out Lex Lata and Lex Ferenda (Ferencza?) in an Emerging Field, International Criminal Law Review, January 2023, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/15718123-bja10145.
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