Berlin - Soroptimist Peace Prize 2013 awarded to Judge Silvana Arbia

35,000 professional women honor and award Silvana Arbia, International Criminal Court’s former Registrar, for her courageous role in building peace

This 2013 winner is Silvana Arbia, an Italian judge, who until recently was Registrar of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Silvana Arbia dedicated nearly a decade of her life to reestablishing justice in Rwanda from 1999-2008 as Senior Trial Attorney and later Chief of Prosecutions for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Silvana Arbia received her prize of €20,000 as well as the Peace Statute on the occasion of the Soroptimist Congress, gathering nearly 2000 leaders, on Sunday, 14th July 2013 in Berlin. The Peace Prize of Soroptimist International of Europe, conferred every two years, honors people or organizations deserving special recognition for their remarkable achievements to promote peace.

Silvana Arbia played a key role in making people’s stories heard and convicting those responsible for atrocities like genocide, crimes against humanity, and using rape as a weapon of war. She was leader of a trial team which ensured 12 indictments and finalized and confirmed 22 pre-trial cases. This included major undertakings such as the Butare case, which saw six accused of genocide and rape as a crime against humanity, one of whom was the former Minister of Family and Women’s Affairs, and the Seromba case, which saw the first Catholic priest charged and sentenced for genocide and crimes against humanity. As Martin Luther King Jr. once put it, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

“Women in Rwanda have proved to be real agents of change not only in reconstructing their country but also in building peace”, said President elect Ulla Madsen, Chair of the Peace Prize jury. “Since 1993, Soroptimist International of Europe, comprising 35,000 members, has been very active in Rwanda, witnessing the hardship that so many Rwandan women had to endure to rebuild their lives following the genocide.  Our clubs in Kigali, supported by the San Marino Soroptimists, worked tirelessly to support widows and provide a better future for their children through education and job training. We even created the famous Rwanda Peace Marathon which takes place in Kigali and brings pride to the country”. Ulla Madsen continued, “Silvana Arbia has been a fabulous enabler for that reconstruction. Her courage and tenacity for truth have been the motor, the inspiration for the population’s recovery and engagement in a better future. We are delighted to give this prize to such an inspirational and admirable woman – her passion to justice made the difference”.

Silvana Arbia, born in Italy in 1952, former Registrar of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. She is the author of a book about her work in Rwanda “While the World was Watching”, for which she received the Levi award. Arbia has lectured and taught on several occasions on the topic of human rights, and has represented the Italian Ministry of Justice at seminars and conferences on trafficking, crime victims, and human rights violations.

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