Born: 5 October 1887, Bayonne, France
Died: 20 February 1976, Paris, France
Residence at the time of the award: France
Role: President of the European Court for Human Rights
Field: human rights
Prize share: 1/1
As a soldier in World War I, the young lawyer René Cassin was severely wounded. The experience marked him for life. In the inter-war years, he represented France at the League of Nations, and worked for disarmament. In the 1920s he sought to bring about reconciliation between former enemies. In Cassin's opinion, military veterans were especially well equipped to bring about reconciliation and peace, and he supported the conferences of war veterans. But Hitler's seizure of power in Germany put an end to such efforts.
After World War II, the UN became René Cassin's arena. He was the brains and the driving force behind the UN commission that drew up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. Article 1 reads as follows: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."