Tuesday, January 23rd 2018


 

 

• From the Founder •

 

 

My father is responsible for my long-time interest in the issue of non-citizens' rights. What these people went through concerned him throughout his entire adult life. This is generally not known, because the name Albert Cohen is primarily linked with that of Solal, the hero of his fictional writings, and his lover Ariane, the “Belle du Seigneur”. But in real life, as a diplomat and a trained lawyer, he headed the Protection Division of the Geneva-based International Organization for Refugees (IOR) from the 1940s on.

I especially remember the Forties, when we found ourselves in London as refugees. I was turning twenty and was starting to realize that it was necessary, as my father was doing, to help the refugees and stateless people who were suffering everywhere because they were pariahs, people on the fringes of mainstream society.

For thirty years, I have personally sought to help strangers, who today have become friends. I may well have waited a little too long to do something tangible in this area, but I did not think that longer-lasting answers were possible. The truth is that it is only recently that I thought of the idea of a foundation.  This was as a result of talks I had with Max Mamou, a lawyer and long-time friend. It is thanks to him that in 1995, and again in 2005, less-well known aspects of my father's work were brought to the attention of new audiences and, notably, academic circles in the context of the Marseille-based Association A vous, frères humains (To you, human brothers”). At my request, he has agreed to assume the arduous duties of President of our Foundation.

Our organization is called the Albert Cohen Memorial Foundation. Its endowment comes from the royalties from my father's literary works. I have every reason to believe that my father would have been delighted at our initiative: he liked to say that, of his writings, what he was proudest of was his “travel document for refugees (at the time called 'displaced persons')”.

The Foundation is headquartered in Switzerland, with its executive offices in Paris. Its mission is a European one. It has been operating for a number of weeks. We have great hopes and confidence, and are delighted that we have finally been able to bring this Foundation into being in Geneva on February 6, 2008.

 

Myriam Champigny-Cohen

 

 

 

• Presentation of the Foundation •

 

 

The aims of the Foundation are:

-      To defend and protect the rights of foreigners residing on the territory of Switzerland and the European Union, in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and Additional Protocols Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 7.

-      To provide support for non-governmental associations and organizations in defending the rights of foreigners in both Switzerland and European Union countries, and to seek documentation about the human rights situation in the countries from which the foreigners in question come.

-      To establish and award a literary or artistic prize for works and/or creative artists who have distinguished themselves by their actions or works designed to improve or highlight the status of foreigners in our societies.

-      To disseminate Albert Cohen's oeuvre and output, as both a writer and international civil servant, irrespective of language, form or medium, as well as to set up a database about his life and work, to be available to researchers, and to protect moral rights to this oeuvre.

Founders:

 

Myriam Champigny-Cohen lives in Switzerland. Albert Cohen's only child, she is the author of Book of my Father (published in French by Actes Sud). Involved for many years in defending the rights of the weakest members of society, she set up and has endowed the Foundation with the author's royalties inherited from her father.

Gérard Valbert lives in Switzerland. He is a writer, journalist, and literary critic. A friend of Albert Cohen, he has written several biographies of the writer which have become standard reference works: Albert Cohen, The Lord and Albert Cohen – The Life Force (Grasset). The most recent work is Conversations with Albert Cohen (L'Âge d'homme, 2008).

Max Mamou lives in France. A graduate of the National School of Administration and a lawyer since 1992, he is currently a member of the Paris Bar. He has variously been legal counsel to the Anti-Corruption Movement, and the Child Protection Board, and then executive director of the Judges and Prosecutors Training Institute, responsible for developing cooperation programs between the Public Prosecutor's Office and NGOs. He organized the 1995 Albert Cohen Days and the 2005 Marseille Fetes Albert Cohen Festival. Since 2004 he has headed the A vous frères humains Association, which promotes the values of respecting differences at schools through literature.

 

 

 

 

 

• Mission statement •

 

 

... Our Court pursues the following: Guaranteeing not theoretical and unrealistic rights, but effective and concrete rights [for foreigners – Ed.])...  [Their] basic rights are often threatened or infringed. Intolerance towards them leads to discrimination in many walks of public and private life.

Very often, for them merely demanding their rights appears an insurmountable obstacle. In addition, pursuing the long road towards recognition of these rights, when they have been ignored by national authorities, is something that is difficult to imagine without appropriate legal aid…

Jean-Paul Costa, President of the European Court of Human Rights

Opening address at the seminar for defense lawyers specializing in the rights of the individual, Strasbourg, April 28, 2008

 

To take steps to ensure that the rule of law is observed to the benefit of non-citizens

 

  1. To present appeals on a national and international level in cases where the enforcement of non-citizens' rights appears to have been discriminatory.
  2. To facilitate the bringing of joint petitions
  3. To disseminate, as required, recent legal rulings representing progress in the rule of law.
  4. To compile and publicize the decisions and best practices of administrations when it comes to recognizing non-citizens' rights
  5. Making available to NGOs:
    1. The Foundation's legal expertise and that of its permanent and voluntary lawyers in handling cases of major importance to the observance and strengthening of the rule of law.
    2. The tools and methods for structuring their legal activities in order to enable effective and prompt handling of cases of major importance to observance of non-citizens' rights.

 

To take steps to become familiar with and publicize the issues at stake in the rule of law

  1. To develop an appropriate strategy on the means to be implemented in order to strengthen the rule of law.
  2. To heighten the public profile of Albert Cohen, the “international civil servant,” through information disseminated using all kinds of media.
  3. To design and distribute educational programs about the rule of law destined for the public at large, notably the very young.

 

To take steps to encourage literary or artistic productions that examine the role of the Foreigner and shed new light on it

 

-            Every year, the Foundation Prize, in the amount of 50,000 CHF, recognizes a work about the figure of the Foreigner and shedding new light on it. Half of the award will be presented to a non-profit organization defending the rights of the non-national in France and/or Switzerland.

 

 

 

 

 

• Approaches to be adopted •

 

Cooperating with NGOs

To cooperate from time to time or on an ongoing basis with French and Swiss NGOs in order to provide additional expertise in cases which will enable observance of the rule of law to be enhanced to the benefit of non-citizens.

Participating in research about the rule of law in relation to State practices

To set up a rule-of-law e-monitoring center dealing with State practices in relation to non-citizens. Unsolicited contributions to the e- monitoring center will be made by researchers, practitioners, and political figures. They will be published and will be the subject of a summary report. The report will be submitted periodically to the French and Swiss policy-makers.

Setting up a network of pro bono lawyers

To set up a network of pro bono lawyers in order to provide legal representation and aid to non-citizens before the French, Swiss, and transnational courts in cases of major importance to the rule of law.

To establish partnerships with public and national education authorities

To establish partnerships with the authorities and education systems in order to promote the implementation of educational programs and public awareness campaigns about the rule of law, targeting both young people and the general public.

To establish and award the Albert Cohen Memorial Foundation Prize

To award the Albert Cohen Memorial Foundation Prize to a literary or artistic work that examines the figure of the Foreigner and sheds new light on it.

 

 

 

 

 

• Foundation Bylaws (extracts) •

 

NAME, REGISTERED OFFICE, PURPOSE AND RESOURCES OF THE FOUNDATION

 

Art. 1  Name and headquarters

The foundation, known as the “Albert Cohen Memorial Foundation,” whose registered offices are in Geneva, is hereby constituted pursuant to Articles 80ff of the Swiss Civil Code. Any transfer of the registered offices to a different location in Switzerland shall require the prior consent of the supervisory authority.

Art. 2  Object

The purpose of the Foundation is as follows:

  1. To disseminate Albert Cohen's oeuvre and output, as both a writer and international civil servant, irrespective of language, form or medium, as well as to set up a database about his life and work, to be available to researchers, and to protect moral rights to this oeuvre.
  2. To establish and award a literary or artistic prize for works and/or creative artists who have distinguished themselves by their actions or works designed to improve or highlight the status of foreigners in our societies.
  3. To defend and protect the rights of foreigners residing on the territory of Switzerland and the European Union, in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and Additional Protocols Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 7.
  4. To provide support for non-governmental associations and organizations in defending the rights of foreigners in both Switzerland and European Union countries, and to seek documentation about the human rights situation in the countries from which the foreigners in question come.

Art. 3  Resources

The founder, Mrs. Myriam Champigny-Cohen, endows the Foundation with a CHF 50,000.00 initial capital in cash.

The capital may be augmented at any time by other donations by the founder herself or others. The Foundation's Board shall endeavor to increase the Foundation's resources by means of private or public donations.

The Foundation's resources must be managed in accordance with accepted business principles. Risk must be diversified. In so doing, resources must not be put at risk by speculation. On the other hand, they must not be managed in an over- conservative fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Bylaws of the pre-Foundation Association incorporated under French law as of 2004 •

 

“To you, fellow human beings”

Association declared to be subject to the Law of July 1, 1901 and the Decree of August 16, 1901, registered on July 20, 2004 at the Bouches-du-Rhône prefecture.

 

Extracts from its Bylaws:

 

Purpose of this Association:

  1. To enable all circles, including the public at large and, more specifically, children and adolescents, to become acquainted with the literary work and activities of the writer, Albert Cohen (1895-1981) to
  2. To enable the above-mentioned circles to discover or get to know better the literary or artistic works, stories or accounts, that foster the learning of the principles of respect for and recognition of, in particular, individuals or groups of individuals who are victims of exclusion and rejection.
  3. This purpose shall be achieved by means of the following activities in particular:
    1. To design and implement workshops and competitions at elementary schools, high schools, preparatory classes and other educational structures and associated activities.
    2. To design and hold symposia, conferences, exhibitions, screenings of audiovisual material and public readings.
    3. To design and develop engineering and pedagogical support for professionals in the field of formal and informal education.
    4. To publish in particular works, magazines, journals, articles, and brochures.
    5. To create Internet sites and multimedia productions.
    6. To take part in any activity likely to contribute to the pursuit of the Association's purpose.
    7. All other means to foster the aforementioned knowledge and learning, whether in France or elsewhere.

 

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