Jules Basdevant

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Jules Basdevant (born  April 15, 1877 in Anost , Saône-et-Loire department , †  March 17, 1968 there ) was a French lawyer and professor of international law at the University of Paris . From 1946 to 1964 he worked as a judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague . During this time he was President of the Court from 1949 to 1952.


Jules Basdevant together with Charles de Gaulle when they were accepted into the Legion of Honor, 1964

Jules Basdevant was born in Anost in 1877 and studied law , which he graduated from the University of Paris with a doctorate in 1901 . There he also taught as Agrégé from February 1903 before he worked at the University of Rennes from 1903 to 1907 . He then moved to the University of Grenoble , where he became a professor and worked until 1918. In the same year he went back to Paris , where he held a professorship for international law from 1922 . In 1936 he also taught at the Hague Academy for International Law . From 1930 to 1941 he was legal advisor to the French Foreign Ministry . In 1946 he was elected judge at the newly established International Court of Justice (ICJ), where he served until 1964. During this time he was Vice President from 1946 to 1949 and then the second President in the history of the court until 1952.

Jules Basdevant was married and had five sons and two daughters. He died in his hometown in 1968. His daughter Suzanne Basdevant , the eldest of his seven children, passed the examination for the license to teach in public law in 1932 and became the first woman in France to hold a professorship at a law faculty and in 1971 the first woman to be a full member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques was included. During the Second World War, her husband Paul Bastid was a member of the Conseil National de la Résistance , the leading organ of the French resistance during the German occupation of the country, and worked as a member of parliament before and after the war.

Legal philosophical views

Jules Basdevant was considered an expert in the field of contract law and in legal philosophical terms as a positivist who rejected natural law considerations. However, he saw the international legal system less in a dominant than in a coordinating role within the framework of the world order, in which the strength of the law would result from its respect. His point of view was accordingly formalistic and pragmatic.


Jules Basdevant was a member of the Institut de Droit international from 1921 and was accepted into the Académie des sciences morales et politiques in 1944 . In addition, he was an honorary member of the American Society for International Law from 1946 and of the French Legion of Honor from 1964 . A street is named after him in the city of Autun .

Works (selection)

  • Les déportations du Nord de la France et de la Belgique en vue du Travail forcé et le Droit international. Paris 1917
  • Traités et conventions en vigeur entre la France et les puissances étrangères. Paris 1918-1922
  • De la responsabilité internationale des états à raison de crimes ou de délits commis sur leur territoire au préjudice d'étrangers. Paris 1930
  • Les affaires étrangères. Paris 1959


  • Paul Bastid : Basdevant, Jules. In: Warren F. Kuehl (Ed.): Biographical Dictionary of Internationalists. Greenwood Press, Westport 1983, ISBN 0-313-22129-4 , pp. 58/59
  • Manfred Lachs : The Teacher in International Law: Teachings and Teaching. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague 1982, ISBN 90-247-2566-6 , pp. 106-108.
  • Jules Basdevant. In: Arthur Eyffinger, Arthur Witteveen, Mohammed Bedjaoui : La Cour internationale de Justice 1946–1996. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague and London 1999, ISBN 9-04-110468-2 , p. 267.
  • Martti Koskenniemi : The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2004, ISBN 0-52-154809-8 , pp. 312/313.

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