René Cassin was a French-Jewish jurist, law professor and judge. He co-drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968. You can read his 1968 Nobel speech here.
He helped found the Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations – dedicated to providing encouragement from a Jewish perspective to the newly founded UN human rights system.
René Cassin was born on 5 October 1887 in Bayonne, France. Having served in the First World War, he founded The French Federation of Disabled War Veterans, a charity for men permanently injured in the war. He remained its President or Honorary President until 1940.
Cassin became a Professor of Law at the University of Aix-en-Provence and then the University of Paris. He was a French delegate to the League of Nations from 1924 to 1938. Here he pressed for progress on disarmament and developing institutions to aid the resolution of international conflicts.
He worked tirelessly on the development of international human rights protection, urging the creation of an international court to punish war crimes in 1942. He was a delegate to the UN Commission on Inquiry into War Crimes (1943-1945) and frequently served as a delegate for the French Government to the UN General Assembly and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Cassin was president of the Hague Court of Arbitration from 1950-1960.
René Cassin died on 20 February 1976, aged 88.
‘A little more justice in the world’ – our commitment to René Cassin’s legacy
On being informed that he would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968, René Cassin replied: “I am very happy. It is not given to every man to have the luck to learn law, to teach it, to make it as a judge and promote it internationally as an international judge”
But he added “I would be happier if there were a little more justice in the world”.
Our mission is to bring ‘a little more justice’ to the world in René Cassin’s name.
René Cassin and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights