Photo of Inamori Ethics Prize medal
Photo credit: Daniel Milner

CWRU to award 2020 Inamori Ethics Prize to Judge Silvia Alejandra Fernández de Gurmendi

Leading figure in international justice, humanitarian law and human rights

The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University will award Judge Silvia Alejandra Fernández de Gurmendi, a leading figure in international justice, humanitarian law and human rights and the first woman to serve as president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), with the 2020 Inamori Ethics Prize.

Case Western Reserve has awarded the Inamori Ethics Prize annually since 2008 to individuals who have made significant and lasting contributions as global ethical leaders.

Judge Silvia Alejandra Fernández de Gurmendi

In 2010, Fernández de Gurmendi was elected as the Central and South American judge to the ICC. She was elected as ICC president in 2015, serving in that role until 2018.

Before joining the ICC, Fernández de Gurmendi was director general for human rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina. She also represented Argentina before other human-rights bodies and advised on transitional-justice issues related to the prevention of genocide and other international crimes.  

“Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi is a paragon of ethical leadership on the world stage,” said Michael Scharf, co-dean of the School of Law and the Joseph C. Hostetler — BakerHostetler Professor of Law. “Her tenure as the first female president of the International Criminal Court marked a significant step forward in the leadership role of women in international justice.” 

Fernández de Gurmendi will be awarded the prize and deliver a free public lecture about her work as part of an academic symposium and panel discussion during Inamori Center events Sept. 10-11 on the Case Western Reserve campus in Cleveland.

Previous Inamori Ethics Prize winners:

LeVar Burton, actor, advocate for children’s literacy and AIDS research, 2019;  
Farouk El-Baz, noted geologist, NASA space scientist and conservationist, 2018;
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, 2017;
Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International and pioneer of the global fight against corruption, 2016;
Martha C. Nussbaum, celebrated philosopher, groundbreaking scholar and Kyoto Prize laureate, 2015;
Denis Mukwege, physician and human rights activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2014 (now a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize recipient);
Yvon Chouinard, corporate social responsibility advocate and Patagonia founder, 2013;
David Suzuki, environmentalist and broadcaster, 2012;
Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe, 2011;
Stan Brock, founder of Remote Area Medical, 2010;
Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and Ireland’s first woman president, 2009; and
Francis S. Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project and director of the National Institutes of Health, 2008.

Fernández de Gurmendi was a professor of international criminal law at the University of Buenos Aires and a visiting professor at American University’s Washington College of Law’s Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. She holds a law degree from the University of Cordoba, Argentina, an LLM from the University of Limoges, France, and a PhD of Law from the University of Buenos Aires. She is currently chair-elect of the Global Action against Mass Atrocity Crimes.

She was awarded the 2017 Global Jurist of the Year by the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights in recognition of her contributions to the advancement of international criminal law as sitting judge.

As part of its mission to foster ethical leadership globally, the Inamori Center presents the Inamori Ethics Prize ceremony annually to an individual for demonstrating exemplary ethical leadership. The Inamori Ethics Prize honors outstanding international ethical leaders whose actions and influence have greatly improved the human condition.

“We are very proud to honor Judge Fernández de Gurmendi,” said Shannon E. French, Inamori Professor in Ethics and director of the Inamori Center. “She played a central role in the creation of the ICC and has worked tirelessly to see that those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity are held accountable for their actions. She is also our first Latinx recipient of the prize and the first from South America. Now more than ever, international standards for human rights must be championed and upheld.”

For more information, contact Bill Lubinger at: