Thomas Buergenthal

2008 Justice Prize

Laureate Profile

Judge Thomas Buergenthal, the American judge on the International Court of Justice, was also judge and president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where he helped put an end to the practice of disappearances in Honduras and safeguard the lives of human rights activists in Guatemala. As Commissioner of the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador, he investigated human rights violations committed in that country during its civil war. A survivor of Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen, Judge Buergenthal was the first full-time chairman (1997-2000) of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and has been a strong voice against genocide and crimes against humanity in different parts of the world. He has played a major role in the introduction of international human rights courses and seminars in American law schools.