American jurist Thomas Buergenthal, an Auschwitz survivor and former judge at the International Court of Justice, has died at the age of 89, the International Court of Justice announced Tuesday.
"It is with great sadness that the ICJ announces the death of Thomas Buergenthal, former member of the Court from 2000 to 2010, on Monday 29 May in the United States," the Court announced on Twitter.
It is with great sadness that the #ICJ announces the passing of HE Mr Thomas Buergenthal, former member of the Court from 2000 to 2010, on Monday 29 May 2023, in the United States of America. pic.twitter.com/2Qr4NAfhm8
— CIJ_ICJ (@CIJ_ICJ) May 30, 2023
Thomas Buergenthal, born on May 11, 1934 to a Jewish family in Lubochna (Czechoslovakia), fled the Nazi invasion with his relatives to Poland. After two years in ghettos, he was finally arrested and deported to the camps of Auschwitz, of which he was one of the youngest survivors, and then to Sachsenhausen (Germany).
Emigration to the United States
Thomas Buergenthal had reunited with his mother after the war and spent several years in Göttingen (Germany), before emigrating in the early 50s to the United States, where he studied law.
Specialized in international law, he was a member of the Truth Commission for El Salvador in 1992-93, then honorary president of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIDH). This human rights specialist then joined the ICJ in The Hague, where he worked for about ten years.
The main judicial organ of the United Nations, the ICJ, created after the Second World War, has a dual mission: to settle legal disputes between States and to give advisory opinions.