Article 2 of the Constitution of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation reads as follows: Within the context of the cultural traditions of Europe in general and the ideas of Erasmus in particular, the aim of the Foundation is to enhance the position of the humanities, social sciences and the arts. The emphasis is on tolerance, cultural pluralism and non-dogmatic, critical thinking. The Foundation endeavours to achieve this aim through the award of prizes and by other means. A money prize is awarded under the name of Erasmus Prize.

In accordance with this article, the Board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has decided to award the Erasmus Prize for the year 2009 to Antonio Cassese and Benjamin Ferencz.
The Prize is awarded to these two gentlemen on the following grounds:

– Both men have significantly contributed to the development of a universal system of law.

– Mr Ferencz has made the prevention of aggression and war the main goal of his efforts and has been the driving force behind the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

– With untiring zeal mr Ferencz keeps fighting for a more peaceful world where the rule of law prevails.

– Mr Cassese has played a pioneering role in creating the first courts for administering international justice and establishing their authority.

– In his function as judge, teacher, scholar and critic, mr Cassese has motivated a great number of students and collaborators and has played a crucial role in the recognition of international tribunals.

– Together these men – the prosecutor and the judge – form the embodiment of the endeavour to punish, prevent and eliminate international war crimes and crimes against humanity.