28 August 2013 - We will deeply miss Dr. Françoise Burhenne-Guilmin, the Mother of the Convention on Migratory Species. “Françoise”, as she was endearingly known to so many in the law and environmental community, passed away on Saturday, 24th August after a prolonged illness.
After graduating as a Doctor in Law at the University of Brussels in 1966, Françoise was appointed Secretary to the IUCN Commission on Legislation. From 1970 to 1972 she worked as Legal Officer and in 1973 became Head of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre (ELC) in Bonn, the position she held until 1999. From that time onwards, she worked as Senior Counsel to the three consecutive directors of the ELC.
Françoise will be dearly remembered for her kindness and generosity, and for her major contributions to the international biodiversity and environmental law communities. For CMS, Françoise was responsible as the drafter of the first legal text of the CMS treaty. As a young lawyer after joining IUCN she was given the task of writing the CMS convention text from scratch and the legacy and the forward looking vision of her words live on in that text today. Françoise was also involved in the development of the first regional instruments after CMS had entered into force, such as the Wadden Sea Seals Agreement and ASCOBANS as well as the development and negotiation of AEWA.
In the world of international environmental law, Françoise nurtured and tutored many young and upcoming lawyers who are now making their own mark in the international law community. As a pioneer in environmental law, she understood the importance of developing a strong foundation which led to her spearheading the development of ECOLEX a free online resource for environmental law which holds in its archives thousands of pieces of legislation, instruments and case law from over one hundred countries.
Those who were her friends will always remember her great sense of humor and her gentle wit; she brought light into every room she entered. Her passionate spirit, undying generosity and contribution to the legal world will live on in the fond memories of all those who were lucky enough to know her and in the legal texts and leanings that she leaves behind for us. Françoise was one in a million and we will all miss her dearly.
CMS Family Secretariat