Former Laureates

René David

René David


The Erasmus Prize in the field of law was shared between a scholar in the field of comparative law, René David, and an organization concerned with human rights, Amnesty International.

René David was born in 1906, and became Professor of Law at Grenoble when he was only twenty-three. Severely wounded during World War II he was a professor at the Sorbonne from 1954 until 1970, and from 1970 until his retirement at Aix-en-Provence, where he died in 1990. David has an international reputation in the field of comparative law. Indeed, the flourishing of this extremely international subject has been accomplished by his intelligent contribution to the harmonisation of law in different countries. Third world countries in particular profited greatly from his drafts of suitable codes, helped by his great linguistic ability and his lucid and original style of thought. David made an important contribution to a better mutual understanding between the world’s various legal systems. Two of his many writings that deserve particular mention are Les grands systèmes de droit contemporain (1969) and the section of The International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law (1972) dealing with International Unification of Private Law. In 1982 his autobiography Les avatars d’un comparatiste appeared.

The aim of the Association Internationale de Droit Comparé, founded in 1960, is to encourage teaching and research in comparative law. René David offered this association part of his Erasmus Prize, which enabled students and professors from the (former) Communist countries of Eastern Europe to attend courses at the Institute in Strasbourg.