International Criminal Court judge His Excellency Judge Cuno Tarfusser was today recognised for his ongoing contribution to Edge Hill University’s Department of Law by being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.
Judge Tarfusser has contributed significantly to Edge Hill University’s Department of Law and Criminology, collaborating on research projects, and delivering key notes speeches at international conferences held by the University.
Judge Tarfusser was appointed to the International Criminal Court in 2009 as a presiding judge of the Pre Trial Chamber II, he has overseen many high-profile cases. These include issuing a number of arrest warrants for Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, the Sudanese President Bashir for genocide, and Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif-al Islam and the Head of the Libyan Secret Services for crimes against humanity. He also confirmed the charges against Jean Pierre Bemba, the Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of Congo for crimes against humanity.
After accepting his accolade from the University’s Chancellor Professor Tanya Byron, Judge Tarfusser stopped by the front row to high-five special guests Mary Martin and Eileen Vickers. The two sisters from Bath moved to Italy to teach the then 10-year old Judge and his siblings English.
“I feel very humbled and grateful to Edge Hill University for the honour I’m being given today,” he said. “I would like to address my fellow graduands on the concept of awareness. It is only since serving as a judge at the ICC that I became really and deeply aware of how good and how lucky my life is. The reason for this new and in-depth awareness is found in what I have experienced.
“I’ve been confronted with many dramatic stories. I’ve interviewed a number of women and men that were forcibly displaced from their families, enlisted as child soldiers or as bush wives, and as such, you can imagine they suffered indescribable and unimaginable cruelty and torture which have seriously damaged their bodies and souls,” he said.
“My seven years at the ICC have made me aware of the enormous gulf between my easy, protected, and privileged life, and the brutal, cruel, and demeaning lives of these women and men. On a daily basis I ask myself why? I do believe that in important moments like this, it’s not a bad thing to reflect with layman awareness on the world that surrounds us,” he said.
Judge Tarfusser then spoke to his fellow Arts and Sciences graduands about the future and his advice for achieving success.
“Dear young colleagues, I recommend to you to be aware that you are lucky, you are privileged, you have been given the possibility to study and this is your merit.
“I sincerely, with all my heart, wish all of you who represent the future, the same and even more luck and success than I had. In order to achieve it please remain humble, be passionate and attribute importance to what you do, not what you are,” he finished.
In addition to his court work, Judge Tarfusser lectures and presents widely at conferences, workshops and seminars in Italy and abroad to share his expertise on issues of court management and international criminal law. His decisions are regularly cited and discussed by academic scholars and practitioners in international criminal justice, criminal law, public international law and human rights.
He hopes to continue to share his expertise when his term of office at the ICC completes in 2018. Judge Tarfusser says that he has been privileged throughout his career with the opportunities he has had, and that in this way he can give back to society and especially to young people with whom he has a strong connection.
Edge Hill University will award ten Honorary Degrees during its 2016 summer graduation ceremonies. Each of the recipients – leaders in a range of areas spanning film, law, politics, music, education, and philanthropy – will be recognised by Edge Hill for their contributions to society that resonate with the University’s values, teaching and research.
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