Robert Badinter

Family tree of Robert Badinter

Lawyer, judge, French Minister and Secretary of state (Mitterrand Government)

FrenchBorn Robert Badinter

French lawyer, politician, and author

Born on March 30, 1928 in Paris , France

Died on February 9, 2024 in Paris , France

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Robert Badinter (French: [badɛ̃tɛʁ]; 30 March 1928 – 9 February 2024) was a French lawyer, politician, and author who enacted the abolition of the death penalty in France in 1981, while serving as Minister of Justice under François Mitterrand. He also served in high-level appointed positions with national and international bodies working for justice and the rule of law.

...   Robert Badinter (French: [badɛ̃tɛʁ]; 30 March 1928 – 9 February 2024) was a French lawyer, politician, and author who enacted the abolition of the death penalty in France in 1981, while serving as Minister of Justice under François Mitterrand. He also served in high-level appointed positions with national and international bodies working for justice and the rule of law.

Early life
Robert Badinter was born 30 March 1928 in Paris to Simon Badinter and Charlotte Rosenberg. His Bessarabian Jewish family had immigrated to France in 1921 to escape pogroms. During World War II, after the Nazi occupation of Paris, his family sought refuge in Lyon. His father was captured in the 1943 Rue Sainte-Catherine Roundup and deported with other Jews to the Sobibor extermination camp, where he was murdered shortly thereafter.Badinter graduated in law from Paris Law Faculty of the University of Paris. He then went to the United States to continue his studies at Columbia University in New York City, where he got his MA. He continued his studies again at the Sorbonne until 1954. In 1965, Badinter was appointed a professor at University of Sorbonne. He continued as an Emeritus professor until 1996.

Political career

Badinter started his career in Paris in 1951, as a lawyer working with Henri Torrès.
In 1965, along with Jean-Denis Bredin, he founded the law firm Badinter, Bredin et partenaires, (now Bredin Prat) where he practiced law until 1981.

The Bontems case
Badinter's activism against the death penalty began after Roger Bontems's execution on 28 November 1972. Along with Claude Buffet, Bontems had taken a prison guard and a nurse hostage during the 1971 revolt in Clairvaux Prison. While the police were storming the building, Buffet slit the hostages' throats. The jury sentenced both men to death. Badinter served as defense counsel for Bontems and was outraged by the sentence. After witnessing the executions, Badinter dedicated himself to the abolition of the death penalty.

Death penalty
In this context, he agreed to defend Patrick Henry. In January 1976, eight-year-old Philipe Bertrand was kidnapped. Henry was soon picked up as a suspect, but released because of a lack of evidence. He gave interviews on television, saying that those who kidnapped and killed children deserved death. A few days later, he was arrested again and shown Bertrand's corpse hidden in a blanket under his bed. Badinter and Robert Bocquillon defended Henry, making the case not about Henry's guilt, but against applying the death penalty. Henry was sentenced to life imprisonment and paroled in 2001.The death penalty was still applied in France on a number of occasions – three people were executed between 1976 and 1977 under the presidency of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing – but its use became increasingly controversial as opinion turned against it. Crimes related to all the three executions were widely condemned for involving coarse brutality, torture, or sexual assault against children or women, suggesting that after the Buffet-Bontems controversy, a higher bar was set for the sentence and presidential pardon. After an almost unanimously approved appeal to the Court of Cassation, the final death sentence, against Philippe Maurice, for murder of a police officer, was confirmed in March 1981, weeks before the election of president Mitterrand.

Ministerial mandate (1981–1986)
In 1981, François Mitterrand, a self-professed opponent of the death penalty, was elected president and Badinter was appointed as Minister of Justice. Among his first actions was to introduce a bill to Parliament proposing the abolition of the death penalty for all crimes, both civilian and military. The bill was passed by the Senate after heated debate on 30 September 1981. On 9 October the law was officially enacted, ending capital punishment in France.During his mandate, he also helped absolve "juridictions d'exception" ("special courts"), such as the Cour de Sûreté de l'État ("State Security Court") and the military courts, and improved the rights of victims of crime.He remained a minister until February 1986.

From March 1986 to March 1995 he was president of the French Constitutional Council. From 1995 to 2011 he served as a senator, representing the Hauts-de-Seine département.In 1989, he participated in an edition of the Antenne 2 talk show Apostrophes devoted to human rights, together with the 14th Dalai Lama. Discussing the disappearance of Tibetan culture from Tibet, Badinter used the term "cultural genocide". He praised the example of Tibetan nonviolent resistance. Badinter met with the Dalai Lama many times, in particular in 1998 when he greeted him as the "Champion of Human Rights", and again in 2008.In 1991, Badinter was appointed by the Council of Ministers of the European Community as a member of the Arbitration Commission of the Peace Conference on Yugoslavia. He was elected as president of the commission by the four other members, all presidents of constitutional courts in the European Community. The Arbitration Commission has rendered eleven pieces of advice regarding "major legal questions" arising from the split of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.Badinter was the first president of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) following its creation in 1995; he served in that position until 2013.Badinter opposed the accession of Turkey to the European Union, on the grounds that Turkey might not be able to follow the rules of the Union. He was also concerned about the nation's location, saying: "We'll have, we Europeans, common borders with Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. I am asking you: What justifies our common borders with these countries? What justifies that we'd get involved in the most dangerous areas of the world?"As a head of the Arbitration Commission, he gained high respect among Macedonians and other ethnic groups in the Republic of Macedonia because he recommended "that the use of the name 'Macedonia' cannot therefore imply any territorial claim against another State". He supported full recognition of the republic in 1992. He was involved in drafting the so-called Ohrid Agreement in the Republic of Macedonia. This agreement was based on the principle that ethnic-related proposals passed by the national assembly (and later to be applied to actions of city councils and other local government bodies) should be supported by a double majority of both Macedonian and Albanian ethnic groups. This is often called the "Badinter principle".In 2009, Badinter expressed dismay at the Pope's lifting of the excommunication of controversial English Catholic bishop Richard Williamson, who had expressed Holocaust denial and was illegally consecrated a bishop and. The Pope reactivated the excommunication later.Badinter was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2009.

World Justice Project
Badinter served as an Honorary Co-Chair for the World Justice Project. It works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the rule of law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.

Case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn
At the start of the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, in which the IMF Managing Director was accused of rape and was arrested by the police in New York City, Robert Badinter reacted by saying to France Inter that he was outraged by the "media killing" and denounced the "failure of an entire system".

Badinter refused any honorary distinction from the National Order of the Legion of Honor (as did his wife) and the Ordre National du Mérite. He nevertheless received foreign decorations, notably the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (Czech Republic) in 2001. and the Order 8-September (North Macedonia) in 2006. As a longstanding activist for the abolition of the death penalty, Robert Badinter was appointed an honorary member of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty.

Personal life and death
Badinter married philosopher and feminist writer Élisabeth Bleustein-Blanchet, daughter of Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, who was the founder of Publicis, a multinational advertising and public relations company. He died in Paris during the night of 8 to 9 February 2024, at the age of 95. President Macron later announced Badinter would be honored with burial in the Panthéon.

Summary of political career
Political appointments:
President of the Constitutional Council: 1986–1995.
Minister of Justice: 1981–1986 (resigned upon appointment as president of the Constitutional Council).
Elected office:
Senator for Hauts-de-Seine: 1995–2011. Elected in 1995, reelected in 2004.

L'exécution (1973), about the trial of Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems
Condorcet, 1743–1794 (1988), co-authored with Élisabeth Badinter.
Une autre justice (1989)
Libres et égaux : L'émancipation des Juifs (1789–1791) (1989)
La prison républicaine, 1871–1914 (1992)
Un antisémitisme ordinaire (1997)
L'abolition (2000), recounting his fight for the abolition of the death penalty in France
Une constitution européenne (2002)
Le rôle du juge dans la société moderne (2003)
Contre la peine de mort (2006)
Les épines et les roses (2011), on his failures and successes as Minister of Justice


External links
Official page of Robert Badinter in the French Senate
(in French) La page de Robert Badinter sur le site du Sénat
(in French) Vidéo: Robert Badinter en 1976, il motive son engagement contre la peine de mort, une archive de la Télévision suisse romande
(in French) UHB Rennes II : Autour de l'oeuvre de Robert Badinter: Éthique et justice. Synergie des savoirs et des compétences et perspectives d'application en psychocriminologie. "journées d'étude les 22 et 23 mai 2008 à l'université Rennes 2, sur le thème 'Autour de l'œuvre de Robert Badinter: Éthique et justice'"],; accessed 12 March 2017.(in French)

Biography from Wikipedia (see original) under licence CC BY-SA 3.0


Geographical origins

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