In memoriam: Dr. Jean-Flavien Lalive (1915-2012)

It is with great sadness that the International Commission of Jurists received the news of the passing of Dr. Jean-Flavien Lalive. He was one of the pillars of our organisation in its early days.

Dr. Lalive was involved in the work of the ICJ for over fifty years. As the Secretary-General from 1958 to 1961, Dr. Lalive played a vital role in establishing our organization in the international human rights community. He is especially noted for bringing the ICJ closer to the United Nations, both in terms of the organization’s political relationships and our physical location. Under his leadership, the ICJ gave more pronounced support for the international standards and enforcement procedures advocated by the UN. He was also responsible for moving the ICJ Secretariat’s headquarters from The Hague to Geneva, where it remains to this day.

While at the ICJ, Dr. Lalive continued to direct the organization’s efforts towards the search for universal procedural and substantive safeguards required for the proper administration of justice, while seeking to encompass the world’s different legal traditions. At the ICJ’s Congress in New Delhi in 1959, Dr. Lalive helped to define principles of the Rule of Law and Human Rights. The Declaration of Delhi, in particular, was to prove a seminal instrument in shaping the Rule of Law, with its conception of the Rule of Law as “a dynamic concept for the expansion and fulfillment of which jurists are primarily responsible and which should employed…to safeguard and advance [human] rights.”

Dr. Lalive later served as an Honorary Member of the ICJ, supporting the work of our organization at conferences and missions over many decades.

Dr. Lalive was an outstanding jurist and an exceptional advocate for human rights and the Rule of Law. He will be truly missed both by our organization and the wider human rights community.


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