“He was the human of Human Rights”

Posted on Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Clemens Nathan photo

We are sad that our great friend, advisor, supporter and one of our founding figures, Clemens Nathan, has passed away. Clemens has been a guiding force in our work since René Cassin’s inception, and his presence and shepherding of our organisation extended from attending our events and speaking to our lawyer and activist supporters, to journeying with us to Geneva to help us engage with the UN Human Rights Council.

Clemens was loved by his family, friends, and his extended family at René Cassin, the Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations and the Clemens Nathan Research Centre. We will miss Clemens’ energy for international engagement, his genuine concern for the welfare of others, his strong conviction and integrity, and his thirst for knowledge and challenge in all endeavours.

Clemens was our closest bridge to Monsieur René Cassin – the man who inspired the work of our organisation. He first met René Cassin in Paris at a meeting of the CCJO when Cassin was Chairman. He soon became a willing assistant to Cassin, accompanying him in 1970 to Brussels to attend the ‘Committee for Human Rights in the Soviet Union’ – a conference to highlight the iniquity of the lack of freedom of minority groups in the Soviet Union. This was an inspiring taste of what advocacy could achieve: Clemens’ reading of Vladimir Bukovsky’s speech (a Jewish dissident on trial in Moscow) was beamed throughout the Soviet Union by Liberty Radio. He would later visit Israel and meet Georgian immigrants who wept upon being introduced, telling Clemens that his speech had been the thing that gave them hope that they would one day experience freedom.

In a speech about René Cassin in 2010, Clemens said: ‘To me, René Cassin, with modesty, determination and perseverance, shaped a new way of thinking of humanity, of a human condition.  He created an extraordinary movement…. This aptly describes Clemens himself. We will forever be grateful for his work and will strive to maintain his legacy.