News and Research on Europe highlighting Robert Schuman's political, economic, philosophical contribution from the independent Schuman Project Directed by David H Price.
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Robert Schuman

                                                      Human Rights and the new definition of EUROPE


1912. Robert Schuman, D Jur, opened a barrister's office in Metz, in German-occupied Lorraine. Educated at the universities of Bonn, Munich, Berlin and Strasbourg, he was active in social and educational projects in Alsace-Lorraine and Germany. 

October 1912 Joint leader of German delegation at the Leuven, Belgium conference of the Union for the Study of international Law according to Christian Principles, presided by Belgian jurist, Baron Deschamps, who later drafted the statutes of the Permanent Court of International Justice, and in 1920 suggested the creation of an International Criminal Court. Schuman, as a permanent representative of the Union, later reported on a work plan to the Law section of the learned Goerres Gesellschaft. 

After World War 1, he was elected with large majority of Lorraine population to the French Parliament.

1919-24 Major contribution to the drafting and parliamentary passage of the 'Lex Schuman', a law code conciliating earlier French and pre-war German legislation for Alsace-Lorraine, safeguarding the rights of the population. It was called 'the greatest act of legal legal unification attempted to then and, moreover, accomplished with the approval of the populations concerned.' The key principles were later applied in the Convention of Human Rights and the European Community. 

1945 Schuman returned as deputy, worked on Constitutional Committee.

1946. 14 July, WS Churchill in Metz where, standing next to Schuman, then Finance Minister, Churchill gave his first European speech about Franco-German reconciliation.

1947-8 Schuman became Prime Minister in France’s worst period of political and revolutionary conflict.

1948, 30 Jan -2 Feb second meeting of Nouvelles Équipes Internationales (one of the organisers of The Hague European Congress in May). Participants included: Don Sturzo, Marc Sangnier, plus Prime Ministers Robert Schuman (F), Pierre Dupong (Lux) LJM Beel (NL) minister P-H Teitgen (F) (later rapporteur for the Convention of Human Rights, the foundational document of the Council of Europe) plus Germans including Konrad Adenauer. Resolution of European unity, reaffirming the Lucerne Declaration of March 1944 (federal European order and guarantees for human rights). A January 1949 publication announced its aim, a European Union: Create Europe or we will die! "Faire l'Europe ou mourir".

7-11 May 1948 The Hague Congress. Prime Minister Schuman sent two ministers, P-H Teitgen (Defence) F Mitterrand (Veterans) to what was a non-governmental conference.  R Bichet, president of NEI, three former French prime ministers, including Paul Reynaud, attended. France and Belgium (Heyman) were the only countries sending minister-level participants.  Britain sent a large delegation but no ministers. The German delegation (including Hallstein, Adenauer, Heinemann, Amelunxen, Brentano) was led by Karl Arnold, Ministerpresident, NRW, British zone. 

20 July 1948, Hague meeting of ministers, Western Union (Brussels Treaty Organization), Schuman’s Foreign Minister G Bidault proposed the creation of a European Assembly (realized in the later Council of Europe) and a customs and economic union (the later Coal and Steel Community and the two Rome Treaty communities). As Foreign Minister in the following governments, Schuman made such supranational institutions a reality.

28 September 1948 Speech as Foreign Minister at United Nations General Assembly in Paris. On Human Rights, he said, celebrating the centenary of the 1848 revolutions. 'France has the right to say on this subject that she possesses  a long tradition if not the copyright of its invention. In this year which is for her as for many European countries a centenary of memories and teachings, she will rejoice that a Declaration could be proclaimed here at home, which in its turn will make its mark in the history of civilized mankind.'  For Europe, Schuman insisted (not without opposition) on the creation of a system of human rights based on the supranational rule of law, rather than a more declaratory approach of the UN to Human Rights. 

25-26 October 1948. France launched discussions on this process through the Brussels Treaty organization (Western Union), creating an official intergovernmental Committee for the Study of European Unity.

10 December 1948, United Nations General Assembly, meeting in Paris, adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1949  27-28 January, the Consultative Council of Western Union agreed that a Council of Europe should be created consisting of a Committee of Ministers and a Consultative body meeting in public.

5 May1949, London St James's Palace, Schuman signed the Statutes of the Council of Europe for France. The aim of  the Council of Europe, originally to be called the European Union, was according to their Statutes the 'safeguarding and realizing the ideals and principles which are their common heritage' recognizing the 'rule of law and that every person placed under its jurisdiction should enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms.' This step, said Schuman, 'created the foundations of a spiritual and political cooperation, from which the European spirit will be born, the principle of a vast and enduring supranational union.'  The Teitgen and Maxwell-Fyfe reports provided means for member states to agree on a Convention.

16 May 1949, Strasbourg. In a speech at the Festival Hall, Schuman explained how Europe is now defined by countries which recognize the rule of law in the field of human rights and fundamental freedoms. 'At the signature to the Statutes of the Council of Europe, I recalled to everyone's mind that we did not yet have a definition of Europe recognized by everybody. I believed that I was then able to claim that that in thus laying the foundation of an organization, Europe is now beginning to define itself, without the aid of scholars and academics, who I fear, will never be able to agree amongst themselves.' He defined this as 'having the European spirit.' Thus membership of the Council of Europe and adherence to the principles of Human Rights provides the definition of states who can become candidate members of supranational communities.

9 May 1950  Schuman Declaration of the French Government to create a European Community based on supranational principles and open to all free countries.

4 November 1950. Signature in Rome of the Convention of Human Rights by Schuman and 11 other national leaders. This gave the new Europe a clear legal criterion for defining geographically the new borders of the Continent.

March 1958 Schuman acclaimed Father of Europe by European Parliament.

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