Birthday: October 5, 1887
French Lawyers & Judges
Died At Age: 88
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Rene Cassin
Born in: Bayonne
Famous as: French Jurist
Died on: February 20, 1976
place of death: Paris
Founder/Co-Founder: International Institute of Human Rights, French Institute of Administrative Sciences
awards: 1968 - Nobel Peace Prize
1966 - United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights
René Cassin was a French jurist known for his work in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. He was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968 for this work. The son of a French-Jewish merchant, he studied law before entering the French Army in World War I. The war experience was very traumatic for the young lawyer. He was severely wounded and in great pain. This experience made him realize the futility of war and deeply influenced the future course of his life. After the war, he embarked on a successful career as a law professor and devoted himself to the cause of disarmament. He travelled widely and lectured at different countries around the world and also made extensive contributions to legal scholarship and published dozens of articles. After World War II Cassin became president of the Council of State (Conseil d’État) and helped found the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He was also instrumental in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He was a French delegate to the Assembly of the United Nations five times, and for many years between 1945 and 1960, a delegate to the UNESCO conferences.
Childhood & Early Life
René Samuel Cassin was born on 5 October 1887 in Bayonne, Basque Country, France, to Gabrielle (Dreyfus) Cassin and Henri Cassin. His father was a French-Jewish merchant.
He was a brilliant student and excelled in his studies at the Lycée of Nice. He then joined the University of Aix-en-Provence for his advanced studies and received a degree in the humanities, along with one in law, in 1908. He furthered his education to earn his doctorate in juridical, economic, and political sciences in 1914.
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During the World War I, he was inducted into the infantry in 1914. Fighting in the war, he sustained severe injuries in 1916 by German shrapnel. He was on the verge of death but survived miraculously. The injury remained uncomfortable for the rest of his life, a continuous remainder of the horrors of the war.
He embarked on a career as a professor of law at Aix late in 1916. He moved to Lille as a law professor in 1920 and to the chair of fiscal and civil law at the University of Paris in 1929. He remained there until his retirement from formal teaching in 1960.
His career as a professor was a highly successful one. He travelled to several countries on various scholarly assignments and lectured at the National School of Overseas Territories and at the Academy of International Law at The Hague, and undertook academic missions in Europe, French Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East.
Meanwhile he also became involved in pacifist activities and served as a French delegate to the League of Nations assemblies and disarmament conferences in Geneva from 1924 to 1938. He was a prolific writer and wrote extensively on legal matters especially those pertaining to aspects of human rights.
During the World War II, he served as the commissioner of public instruction. After France was liberated in 1945, he became president of the Council of the National School of Administration.
He helped found the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1944 and was a French delegate to UNESCO from 1945 to 1952. He also served as a French representative to the United Nations from 1946 to 1968.
René Cassin created, and served as the first president of the French Institute of Administrative Sciences (IFSA), in 1947. This association organized many conferences that helped to develop the French doctrine in administrative law.
He was the president of the UN Commission on the Rights of Man (1947–48). In this position, he helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Working from a draft originally composed by Canadian scholar and professor of law, John Humphrey, he developed the final version of the declaration which was eventually adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
Over the course of his career he also promoted education and law by serving as the president of several organizations including the French branch of the World Federation of Democratic Jurists (1949), the Society of Comparative Legislation (1952-1956), and the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (1953-1956).
Rene Cassin is best remembered for the role he played in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, working from the original writing of John Humphrey. The declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. He received several prestigious awards for this work.
Awards & Achievements
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 1968 for his work in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The same year, he was also given the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.
Personal Life & Legacy
Rene Cassin was married to Simone Yzombard of Marseilles.
He died on 20 February 1976 in Paris, France.
In 2003, the Basque Government created the René Cassin Award, "with the goal of publicly acknowledging and rewarding individuals or collectives that, through their personal or professional path, showed a strong commitment to the promotion, defence and divulgation of Human Rights".