Inspiring Thursday: Carla del Ponte

The woman we present today has been nicknamed “the pest” and “the new Gestapo”. She faced the Sicilian Mafia as well as some of the most infamous war lords in history. We are talking about Carla del Ponte. Admired by some and disliked by other, del Ponte is certainly a controversial figure!
Internationally, Ms. del Ponte is known for her position as chief prosecutor in the international tribunals after the Yugoslav wars and the civil war in Rwanda. During her decade-long career she was able to make a number of impressive achievements while also facing criticism from her opponents. Her work at the tribunal has been important in identifying and prosecuting forms of warfare such as genocide and rape.

Carla del Ponte was born in 1947 in Bignascio, a tiny village in southern Switzerland. There she grew up with her parents and three brothers, who owned a hotel. Ms. del Ponte went on to study International Law at universities in Bern and Geneva, Switzerland as well as in the UK. She went on to work at different law agencies before working independently as a lawyer.

In 1994, she was appointed attorney general for the Swiss Confederation. During this time, del Ponte made headlines due to her prosecution of several people accused of money laundering. Amongst them, was the former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto and members of the mafia Cosa Nostra. Five years later she assumed the position of chief prosecutor in two UN tribunals dealing with war crimes: The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). One of the highlights of her successful career was surely bringing to justice the perpetrators of the mass-atrocities, in the context of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. After resigning as chief prosecutor for the UN, she took over the position of the Swiss Diplomat in Argentina.
It is impossible to give a full overview of all the milestones of Del Pontes dynamic career.
Carla del Ponte is truly an inspiration!

Written by Perrine Yarar, WAVE Intern
BBC News:
Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
Tages Anzeiger:
Book Info:
The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals (2008)