M. Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-American law professor hailed by many in academic and policy circles as “the father of international criminal law,” passed away on September 25, 2017. He was 79. The cause of death was reported to be complications from multiple myeloma.
Mahmoud Cherif Bassiouni was born in Cairo, Egypt, on December 9, 1937. His father was an Egyptian diplomat to India. In 1956, while a young Bassiouni was studying law in France, the Suez Crisis broke out. Bassiouni returned to Egypt to serve in the Egyptian army, and fought against the attack on the Sinai Peninsula.
In 1964, Bassiouni received his law degree from Indiana University, and also received a doctorate of law from George Washington University. As a legal scholar, Professor Bassiouni was incredibly prolific. In his six decade long career, he published 256 scholarly articles and over 30 books on topics ranging from international extradition to the Islamic criminal justice system.
Professor Bassiouni was not only a scholar of international law, but a human rights champion. As vice-chair of the UN General Assembly, he helped establish the International Criminal Court, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 1999. He has investigated war crimes and human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan, among other countries. In 1990, he co-founded the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul University, where he had taught for over six decades.
Opinio Juris has published a farewell note by Professor Bassiouni that his students sent out posthumously from his email account to his list of friends and acquaintances. He is survived by his wife, Elaine Klemen-Bassiouni, a stepdaughter, Lisa Capitanini, and two grandchildren.