1986 Balzan Prize for Basic Human Rights
The study of human rights and fundamental liberties have been essential to Professor Jean Rivero ‘s (*1910 – †2001) accomplishments.
The oft-reprinted two volume work devoted to these fields of study has greatly brought the teaching of civil liberties in France up to date by fitting into a general theoretical framework of human rights. He has also written extensively elsewhere, analysing fundamental ideologies and their evolution, the issues inherent to specific liberties and the legal applications of human rights in the current situation. Herein lies the essence and guiding force of the author’s thought: over and beyond erudition, the necessity of making human rights ones felt and experienced by mankind.
This idea has governed the entirety of his work focusing on various juridical subjects: in civil and labour law, man’s place and protection against all arbitrary acts are the wellspring of his thinking. On several occasions, the French government commissioned him to draw up a number of bills extending civil liberties and has often sought his advice in this domain.
The gifted and clearheaded humanism characterising Jean Rivero’s work and activities has lent meaning to a reputation going far beyond his country’s borders. For many years Chairman of the Social Sciences Section of the French Commission for UNESCO, member of the French delegation to the UNESCO General Conference in Belgrade, Jean Rivero has repeatedly advised UNESCO, in particular with respect to the establishment of an international association of teachers of human rights.
He is the man Columbia University invited to present the French conception of human rights in a symposium and compare it with the American point of view.
His preeminence is evidenced by where he has spoken on human rights: at the University of Madrid while Spain was still under dictatorial rule, before the Colombian State Council, at the Caracas Academy, at the Hellenic Foundation for Human Rights, in Brussels, in Louvain, Rabat, Tunis, Beirut and also quite naturally, at the Institut International des Droits de l’Homme where he has collaborated, in response to René Cassin’s wish, since its beginnings.
Honorary degrees awarded from several universities, decorations received abroad and the translation of several of his works into Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and Greek all bear witness to his international authority and renown.