The dying wish of Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz was a Special Tribunal for Putin

Before his death this year, Farencz argued that Putin and his accomplices can and should be jailed for his invasion of Ukraine.

The dying wish of Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz was a Special Tribunal for Putin

Ben Ferencz understands the path to justice. It's literally named after him.

Such is his highly respected leading role in establishing modern international law and campaigning for peace globally that if you take a stroll in the Hague towards the Palace of Justice, the home of the International Criminal Court, then you'll find yourself on Benjamin Ferencz Path.

As a young man, Ferencz served in the US Army during the Second World War and was assigned to document war crimes in Germany. He would rush into concentration camps as they were liberated to urgently collect evidence of the crimes that had taken place there.

When a Special Tribunal was created in Nuremberg to put Nazis on trial, Ferencz joined a legal team and then stepped into the role of prosecutor at just 27, realising that if he didn't do it then too many crimes would go unpunished. As a result, he secured the conviction of Nazi SS officers responsible for brutal mass murders.

The special tribunal didn’t just bring justice. It exposed the crimes of the Nazis to Germany and the world. It thoroughly discredited aggression as a tool of statecraft. It led to the establishment of the UN Charter and laid the foundation for modern international law - and the 80 years of relative peace and stability that the world has enjoyed as a result.

By taking such a crucial role at a young age, Ferencz was able to dedicate his life up to this year towards the advancement of international law. His guiding principle was that for civilization to survive, it must turn to rule of law.

He campaigned for the creation of an International Criminal Court and published numerous books on the subject. Although an incredible acheivement, Ferencz remained a campaigner even after its creation, arguing that all countries should ratify its founding Rome Statute and that loopholes must still be closed.

Ferencz reiterated his core belief when he wrote in 2018 that "war-making itself is the supreme international crime against humanity and that it should be deterred by punishment universally, wherever and whenever offenders are apprehended"

Sadly, Ferencz lived to see what he called 'the Nuremburg precedent' shattered by Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. Long before momentum started to build towards seeking justice, Ferencz was categorically clear from the outset of the war that Putin and his accomplices should face a Special Tribunal for their crimes.

“I want to see Putin behind bars," Ferencz told the Daily Mirror. "It is possible. It’s very realistic. All we need is the determination to do it, they’re not living on the moon."

Ferencz can not credibly be dismissed as naive, defamed by Kremlin propaganda, nor even accused of international bias. He remained critical of his own country. His expertise and principles with regards to international law are exemplary.

Just as the Special Tribunal at Nuremburg aimed to not just punish Nazis but also create a better world for everyone (which was overwhelmingly successful), Ferencz argued that a Special Tribunal for Putin and his accomplices would not just be about them.

He told CBS News that a Special Tribunal for Putin would be important "not only in the context of this case… but to state the principle that you may not commit aggression against a neighboring state, or anybody."

You can watch one of his last interviews with CNN here in which he discusses both his life and the importance of justice for Ukraine.