René Cassin

Last updated

René Cassin
Rene Cassin nobel.jpg
René Cassin portrait from his Nobel Prize
René Samuel Cassin

(1887-10-05)October 5, 1887
Died20 February 1976(1976-02-20) (aged 88)
Paris, France
Occupation French jurist, law professor and judge
Known forAdvocacy for Human Rights
Notable work
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
AwardsNobel Peace Prize (1968)

René Samuel Cassin (5 October 1887 20 February 1976) was a French jurist known for co-authoring the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.


Born in Bayonne, Basque Country, the son of a French-Jewish merchant, he served as a soldier in World War I. He formed the Union Fédérale, a leftist, pacifist organisation for veterans. During the Second World War he served in the Free French government-in-exile in London and between 1944 and 1959 was a member of the Council of State. Seconded to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1946, he was responsible for the first full draft of the Universal Declaration. For this work he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968. That same year, he was awarded one of the UN General Assembly's Human Rights Prizes.


As French delegate to the League of Nations from 1924 to 1938, Cassin pressed for progress on disarmament and in developing institutions to aid the resolution of international conflicts.

Following World War Two, Cassin was assigned to the United Nations, helping to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Working from a list of rights elaborated by Canadian scholar and professor of law John Humphrey, Cassin produced the first full draft of the text, creating the document's structure and incorporating a preamble and principles.

He served on the UN's Human Rights Commission and the Hague Court of Arbitration.

He was also a member (1959–1965) and president (1965–1968) of the European Court of Human Rights. Today the court building is on the Allée René Cassin in Strasbourg.

Cassin also headed many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), founding the French Federation of Disabled War Veterans in 1918 and until 1940 serving as its president and then honorary president. In 1945, Charles de Gaulle suggested Cassin, having done so much for the French people, also do something to help the Jewish people. Cassin became the president of the French-Jewish Alliance Israelite Universelle (AIU) which had previously been primarily dedicated to educating Sephardi Jews living under the rule of the Ottoman Empire according to a French modernist curriculum. As president of the AIU, Cassin worked with the American Jewish Committee and the Anglo-Jewish Association, to found the Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations, a network dedicated to building support for Cassin's platform of human rights from a Jewish perspective[ clarification needed ] while the UN human rights system was in its early stages of development. [1]

In 1947, René Cassin created the French Institute of Administrative Sciences (IFSA) which was recognized of public utility. He was the first president of this association which organized many conferences that helped to develop the French doctrine in administrative law.

On 10 November 1950, he was photographed at a U.N. radio alongside Karim Azkoul, Georges Day and Herald C.L. Roy, participating in a roundtable discussion for the use of French-speaking countries. This is perhaps all the more interesting because Azkoul and Cassin differed so strongly in their perspectives concerning the politics of Zionism. [2]

Cassin died in Paris in 1976 and was initially interred at the Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris. In 1987, his remains were exhumed and enshrined in the crypt of the Panthéon in Paris.

Memorial to Cassin in Forbach, France ReneCassin.JPG
Memorial to Cassin in Forbach, France


In 2001, CCJO René Cassin was founded in Cassin's to promote Universal Human Rights from a Jewish perspective. The René Cassin medal is awarded by the CCJO to those who have made an outstanding global contribution to human rights. As the head of the Alliance Israélite in France, he pursued civil rights for the Jews and was an active Zionist. A high school in Jerusalem is named after him.

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". The award is given on December 10, International Human Rights Day. [3]

See also


Related Research Articles

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. The UN is headquartered on international territory in New York City, with its other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights Declaration adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a historic document that was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at its third session on 10 December 1948 as Resolution 217 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. Of the then 58 members of the United Nations, 48 voted in favour, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote.

The United Nations Prizes in the Field of Human Rights were instituted by United Nations General Assembly in 1966. They are intended to "honour and commend people and organizations which have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other United Nations human rights instruments".

AIU may refer to:

Alliance Israélite Universelle organization

The Alliance israélite universelle is a Paris-based international Jewish organization founded in 1860 by the French statesman Adolphe Crémieux to safeguard the human rights of Jews around the world. The organization promotes the ideals of Jewish self-defense and self-sufficiency through education and professional development. It is noted for establishing French-language schools for Jewish children throughout the Mediterranean, Iran and the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and early 20th century.

CCJO RenéCassin is a human rights NGO that works to promote and protect universal human rights, drawing on Jewish experiences and values. The organisation does this by campaigning for change in defined human rights areas through a combination of advocacy, policy analysis, public campaigning and education and building the capacity of activists and lawyers to promote and protect human rights. The organisation works in human rights areas that bear some relation to Jewish experience, such as discrimination, asylum, and genocide. The organisation holds special consultative status with the United Nations as a constituent organisation of the Consultative Council of Jewish Organisation (CCJO). The CCJO's first President was René Cassin, a principal drafter of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968 in recognition of his work for human rights as a jurist, academic and statesman. The CCJO has been an active supporter of efforts to increase the effectiveness of the UN's human rights treaties and institutional mechanisms in the intervening decades. From the 1940s to the 1970s it was involved in the creation of the United Nations human rights instruments, which form the basis of the UN's human rights activities today.

The International Institute of Human Rights is an association under French local law based in Strasbourg, France. It includes approximately 300 members worldwide, including universities, researchers, and practitioners of human rights.

The International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IJL) strives to advance human rights everywhere, including the prevention of war crimes, the punishment of war criminals, the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction, and international co-operation based on the rule of law and the fair implementation of international covenants and conventions.

Narcisse Leven French lawyer

Narcisse Leven was a lawyer by profession.

Charles Netter French zionist

Charles Netter, was a founding member of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. In 1870, Netter founded Mikveh Israel, the first modern Jewish agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel.

Serge Haroche French physicist, Nobel laureate

Serge Haroche is a French physicist who was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics jointly with David J. Wineland for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems", a study of the particle of light, the photon. This and his other works developed laser spectroscopy. Since 2001, Haroche is a Professor at the Collège de France and holds the Chair of Quantum Physics.

While belief in the sanctity of human life has ancient precedents in many religions of the world, the foundations of modern human rights began during the era of renaissance humanism in the early modern period. The European wars of religion and the civil wars of seventeenth-century Kingdom of England gave rise to the philosophy of liberalism and belief in natural rights became a central concern of European intellectual culture during the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment. These ideas lay at the core of the American and French Revolutions which occurred toward the end of that century. Democratic evolution through the nineteenth century paved the way for the advent of universal suffrage in the twentieth century. Two world wars led to the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted between early 1947 and late 1948 by a committee formed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Further discussion and amendments were made by the Commission on Human Rights, the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations.

André Chouraqui French translator

Nathan André Chouraqui was a French-Algerian-Israeli lawyer, writer, scholar and politician.

Isaac Schneersohn was a French rabbi, industrialist, and the founder of the first Holocaust Archives and Memorial. He emigrated from Ukraine to France after the First World War.

Suzanne Feingold (1904–1977) was a French Resistance worker. She was an editor of Ici Paris.

Michel Forst

Michel Forst is a French national actively involved in the defence of human rights. Former Secretary General of the French national human rights institution, he was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders from June 2014 to March 2020.

Clemens Neumann Nathan was a German-born English businessman and philanthropist. He was a campaigner on behalf of Jewish causes, international human rights and interfaith dialogue.

Alliance school Tehran was the first Alliance Israélite Universelle school built in Iran. Located in the capital Tehran and founded in 1898, it was the first western style school in Iran.

Alexandre Créhange Alexandre Créhange

Alexandre ben Baruch Créhange, who wrote under the pen name Ben Baruch, was a French Jewish writer and communal leader.


  1. Winter, Jay. 2012. René cassin and the alliance israélite universelle. Modern Judaism 32 (1): 1-21.
  2. Photo/MB, UN (10 November 1950). "Round Table Discussion over U.N. Radio". Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  3. "Premio René Cassin".