Dear confrères, dear consoeurs,

It is with immense sadness that I inform you of the death of our confrère Jean Salmon, on Wednesday 14 September 2022. It is an intense life in the service of international law and our Institute that is coming to an end.

Born on 4 March 1931 in Ixelles (Belgium), he received a doctorate from the Université libre de Bruxelles in 1954 and from the University of Paris in 1957. He then worked as Deputy Legal Advisor at the Relief and Works Agency of the United Nations (UNRWA) from 1958 to 1961.

He was Professor (since 1961), Emeritus Professor (1996) and Visiting Professor (2013) at the Université libre de Bruxelles. He held various positions within this University, in particular as Secretary of the Institute of European Studies (1963-1967), Director (1964-1996) and President (1996-2003) of the Center for International Law and President of the Faculty of Law (1977-1980). He has also taught at many other universities in various countries.

Furthermore, he was involved in the activities of The Hague Academy of International Law, first as Director of Studies for the French-speaking section in 1967, and providing a course in 1982 and the inaugural lecture in 2010.

He worked as advisor for various governments and as advocate and counsel before the International Court of Justice in 10 cases. He was Judge ad hoc in the Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Burundi) case.

He was a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (1977-2015) and President of the Burundi/Libya Arbitral Tribunal in the Lafico v. Burundi case. He was also appointed arbitrator for Belgium in Belgique c. Office européen des brevets.

He was Director of the Revue belge de droit international (1964-2002) and his list of publications is impressive: more than 250 books, chapters and articles, including some twenty publications relating to the work of our Institute.

Above all, Jean Salmon was passionate about our Institute. His ties with the Institute date back almost 70 years. As secretaire-rédacteur, he attended the sessions from 1956 to 1965. He was elected associate member in 1967 (Nice Session), titular member in 1979 and honorary member in 2015. In addition to having served as Third Vice-President (1995-1997), he was Rapporteur on the theme “Pollution of rivers and lakes and international law” on which a resolution was adopted by the Institute during the Athens Session in 1979. He contributed to the work of numerous commissions and participated in more than 25 sessions.

Based on his in-depth knowledge of the history, development, works and composition of the Institute, he was appointed President of the Institute’s History Commission, created in 2016. A tireless worker, he has conducted extensive research on the history and work of the Institute, resulting in the publication of various reports, published in our Yearbook. With remarkable thoroughness, he took on his own initiative the task of identifying each member, partner and member of the secretariat on the official photos of the Institute’s sessions.

Being in Brussels last week, I had the privilege of being able to visit him and share a long moment with him, during which he never ceased to concern himself with the work relating to our upcoming 150th  anniversary. His voice was weak, but his ideas were clear and persuasive. He got teary-eyed when mentioning his love for our Institute. Certainly sensing that time was running out, he expressed his friendship and his unfailing optimism about the future of the institution to which he was so attached. His physical presence will be missed. His example and his work remain forever.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Denise, to his family, to the Belgian National Group and to the many friends he had among the members of our Institute.

Prof. Marcelo Kohen


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