Buergenthal Talk Highlights 10th Anniversary Celebration

Judge Thomas Buergenthal of the International Court of Justice gives the keynote address during the Center's 10th anniversary celebration

March 17, 2008

Highlighted by a keynote speech from Judge Thomas Buergenthal of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Ethics Center looked to its next decade of fostering global coexistence and justice during a day-long 10th anniversary celebration on March 13.

The talk by Buergenthal followed a symposium called "The Next Ten Years: The Ethics Center Looks Ahead," in which members of the Center's Advisory Board and leaders in the field of coexistence and international justice considered potential activities for the Center, such as advocacy for support of international justice norms, examination of religion's role in society, and encouraging empowerment of women and marginalized populations.

"Just as another esteemed group gave us ideas to move forward before the Ethics Center began, the participants in 'The Next Ten Years' helped create a vision for the future of our now established Center as we seek to advance our activities for the decade to come" said Director Daniel Terris.

In his talk, Buergenthal discussed the role of the international justice system from the perspective of someone who has served both on the bench of the ICJ as well as on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He noted that other than the ICJ, all major international courts were created after World War II. And the need for such courts will continue to grow, he predicted, with more tribunals to address human rights violations and regional economic courts being created. Many areas of the world still lack such courts, he noted. In addition, he said, domestic courts are applying international court decisions, showing that international courts not only settle disputes but create law.

"We live in a world in which international courts are needed more than ever before," he said.

International courts have gained acceptance in many countries, particularly in Europe, but still engender suspicion, he said. One objection is that judges on international courts can't be neutral if their own country comes before the court. Yet, he countered, "In many countries, people have greater faith in international judges than judges in their own countries."

Buergenthal also noted that the Brandeis Institute for International Judges, a flagship program of the Center, has benefited the international justice system.

Following his talk, the Center held a gala 10th anniversary dinner, which included a tribute to the late Abraham Feinberg, whose gift established the Center. In addition, Ethics Center Student Fellowship recipient Jennifer Lewey '02 and Sunil Kumar Pokhrel, a current student in the Master of Arts in Coexistence and Conflict program, spoke about their experiences with the Center.

For a complete text of the Buergenthal talk, click here.

gala dinner sunil

Sunil Kumar Pokhrel speaks about his experience as a current student in the Master of Arts in Coexistence and Conflict Program during the Center's 10th anniversary gala dinner.