René Cassin is Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
René Samuel Cassin (5 October 1887, Bayonne – 20 February 1976, Paris) was a French-Jewish jurist, law professor and judge.
A French soldier in World War I, he later went on to form the Union Fédérale, a leftist, pacifist Veterans organisation. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968 for his work in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948. That same year, he was also awarded one of the UN's own 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.
Working from a draft composed by Canadian scholar and professor of law, John Humphrey, he reduced the draft from 46 basic articles to 44. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as eventually adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December contained 30 human rights articles from the original draft.
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 Rue René Cassin in Strasbourg.
Cassin also headed many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), in 1918, for instance, founding the French Federation of Disabled War Veterans and until 1940 serving as its President and then Honorary President. In 1945, de Gaulle suggested Cassin, having done so much for the French people, also do something to help the Jewish people. Cassin turned to the Alliance Israelite Universelle, and, together with the American Jewish Committee and the Anglo-Jewish Association, founded the Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations, dedicated to providing encouragement from a Jewish perspective to the nascent UN human rights system. In 2001, CCJO René Cassin was founded to promote Universal Human Right from a Jewish perspective.
From 1924 until 1938 Cassin worked within the League of Nations for disarmament. When the war in France in 1940 led to an armistice after a few months, Rene Cassin was the first civilian to leave Bordeaux in response to General de Gaulle's appeal. On June 20 he reached London, where he became de Gaulle's minister of justice in exile. Here he prepared, among other things, the agreement between Winston Churchill and de Gaulle which was to become the charter of the Free French forces.
The Vichy government then deprived him of his French citizenship and sentenced him to death in absentia.