Sunday, February 20, 2011

On February 20

On this day in ...
... 1976 (35 years ago today), Dr. René Cassin died in Paris, 88 years after his birth in Bayonne, France. Having earned his Ph.D. in law from the University of Aix-en-Provence in 1914, Cassin was wounded as an infantryman during World War I, then began a career in the teaching and promotion of human rights and humanitarian law. Among his many posts: delegate to the League of Nations, chief legal adviser during World War II to de Gaulle's French government in exile, President of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and President of the European Court of Human Rights. Central to his legacy was his service as the 1st vice chair of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights: along with Chair Eleanor Roosevelt and others, Cassin was instrumental in the drafting and promulgation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an instrument that he contended "had not just moral, but legal weight" within the system established by the Charter of the United Nations:
It was the development of the Charter which had brought human rights within the scope of positive international law. That being so, it could not be said that the Declaration was a purely theoretical instrument. It was only a potential instrument; but that fact in no way detracted from the binding force of the provisions of the Charter.
(credit for 1947 U.N. photo of Cassin, right, with Roosevelt) Winner of the 1968 Nobel Peace Prize, Cassin is interred in the Panthéon in Paris.

(Prior February 20 posts are here, here, here, and here.)

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