Message by Ben Ferencz to the conference “SOS Rule of Law”

On 20 June 2018, Ben Ferencz, US Chief Prosecutor in the Einsatzgruppen case at the Nuremberg Trials, delivered a video message to the conference S.O.S. Rule of Law held in Geneva during the 38th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The event was organized by the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational Transnational and the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella”, with the support of Hands Off Cain and the Siracusa Institute, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Italy to the International Institutions in Geneva.

Ben Ferencz’s message:

Greetings to you all. My name is Ben Ferencz, and I am speaking to you from Delray beach, Florida, in February 2018. I want to thank Laura Harth for the invitation to give you a few observations which you may use in connection with your celebration of the Rule of Law.

When I hear the “Rule of law”, I’m reminded of my Supreme Commander in World War II, where I was a combat soldier from the beaches of Normandy to the final battle of the buldge. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was the Supreme Commander of all the forces, as President of the United States, he made it clear: the world can no longer rely on force. If civilization is to survive, we must turn to the rule of law. And certainly, I agreed with that.

What is happening now is that young people, if the Heads of State don’t agree, are fed a lot of propaganda and sent off to kill other young people they don’t even know, who may have done them no harm, they may haven’t done anybody any harm and they kill each other, until they get tired of killing. Then they declare victory, then they rest and they start again. How can they get to such stupid things? Because they are misled. They believe they are acting in defence of their country, or some noble goal to protect their religious views or to protect their economic condition. But they don’t see the full picture.

The basic thing if you rely on human common sense – and Justice Jackson in the Nuremberg Trials certainly emphasized the need for common sense – you must have the facts and you must have them straight. Governments unfortunately are busy spying on each other and then condemning spying or giving you stories, which have some resemblance and maybe a little bit resemblance to the truth.

So get the facts first, get them straight and you will see that law is always better than war. Even if it’s a bad decision, it’s better than war making and I can assure you of that, people in Rome where this may be heard or in Geneva will also recognize, because they’ve experienced what it means to be in war.

The new generation, I hope, will not have to go through that kind of horror. So I wanted to just wish you all the very best of luck to recognize that good progress to being made it requires constant pressure and constant determination by the young people and the new generation and I pass that torch on to you with all of my good wishes. Goodbye. Arrivederci.

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