September 26, 2017 WBEZ sits down with Ahmed Rehab in memory of Cherif Bassiouni.
Worldview host Jerome McDonnell sat down with Basiouni’s friend and mentee, Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Jerome McDonnell: Tell us a little more about the Cherif you know you.
Ahmed Rehab: He was essentially the godfather of human rights, and specifically, international criminal law. He gave lectures, wrote books, articles, received honorary degrees, awards, and honorary citizenship. But beyond the pomp and the veneer, he was always a man who was studious, laborious, loving. He cared about connecting personally with everybody he met. His incredible charisma was sort really the legendary aspect.
McDonnell: Most people know his work with the United Nations, which asked him to gather evidence of war crimes in Bosnia. This work effectively changed the field of international law.
Rehab: The international diplomatic establishment was not very interested in prosecuting the crimes in Bosnia. So being who he was — defiant and committed — he did it his way. He raised funds himself, he put together a team, and went there. He finally convinced them to take in the results of his investigation and prosecute up to 67,000 cases of rape and assault. He also prosecuted hundreds of people including the top guy, Slobodan Milošević.
These lawsuits helped establish sexual violence against women was a crime against humanity. This is what one of his main contributions to the field of international criminal law. He also was one of the founding fathers of the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.