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Freedom Award of Freie Universität Berlin Goes to Former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Carla Del Ponte

Award Ceremony on October 20

№ 335/2014 from Oct 01, 2014

The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, Carla Del Ponte, is being awarded the Freedom Award of Freie Universität Berlin. Speakers for the university said the award is being given in recognition of Del Ponte's courageous and persistent advocacy for the punishment of crimes against humanity. Carla Del Ponte helped make the victims’ voices be heard and rendered outstanding services to justice and the establishment of an international legal system. Although there were numerous attempts to block her investigations, Del Ponte was never deterred. The award ceremony will take place on October 20, 2014. The event is public and free of charge. Advance registration is requested.

By the 1980s, as a public prosecutor, Carla del Ponte already became known for her resolute and uncompromising commitment against crime. Beginning in 1994, as a federal prosecutor for the Swiss Confederation, Carla del Ponte continued her fight against money laundering, arms trafficking, corruption, and organized crime. In 1999, upon recommendation by the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the UN Security Council appointed her Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslawia (1999-2007) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1999-2003) in The Hague.

During her eight years in office, of the 161 individuals that the war crimes tribunal had indicted since being founded in 1993, 91 had been arrested or voluntarily surrounded to the authorities. Of this number, 63 individuals – including military commanders, soldiers, and local politicians – were sentenced by the court to imprisonment. The extradition of the deposed dictator Slobodan Milošević to the tribunal in 2001 caused a great international sensation. Milošević, however, died in detention after four years of trial, without having been sentenced for his crimes.

Del Ponte persistently pointed out that justice for the victims is only possible by means of extensive international and national efforts. When she left The Hague in 2007, she strongly urged the EU to make the signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Serbia dependent on the arrest and extradition of war criminals Mladić and Karadžić.

Since September 2012 Carla Del Ponte has been continuing her tireless work as a member of the independent UN Syria Commission and has been investigating human rights violations and war crimes in the Syrian civil war.

With its Freedom Award, Freie Universität recognizes individuals who have rendered outstanding services to the cause of political, social, or academic freedom. Two university traditions come together in this award: the vision of freedom that goes back to the founding history of Freie Universität, as well as the international orientation of the university. Previous winners include the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, the former UN High Commissioner and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, the South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, the former Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, and the former President of the Republic of Korea and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kim Dae-jung.

Time, Location, Registration, and Further Information

  • Monday, October 20, 2014, 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:15 p.m.)
  • Henry Ford Building, Freie Universität Berlin, Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin; subway station: Thielplatz (U3)
  • To attend, please sign up by October 15, 2014, by sending an email to or a fax to +49 30 838-73444.