Frequently asked Questions

What is René Cassin?

René Cassin is a human rights campaigning organisation and registered charity that promotes and protects universal human rights drawing on Jewish experience and values. Simply put, we make human rights relevant for Jewish people and bring a Jewish voice to the human rights dialogue.

Do I have to be Jewish?

No. Our supporters, staff and interns come from variety of backgrounds. All we ask is that you support our mission.

How can I be involved?

You can make a donation, come to an event, campaign for us or volunteer in some way.  More information about all of these options can be found on this page, or contact us to learn more.

What is the Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations?

The CCJO is René Cassin’s parent body.  Founded by René Cassin in 1946, the CCJO facilitates our access to Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGOs), such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

What is René Cassin’s policy on Israel?

In light of the ongoing proposals for judicial reforms in Israel and the views expressed by certain members of the Government of Israel, and the immediate risk to human rights, democracy and the rule of law, the Board of René Cassin has decided to take an extraordinary step and make the following statement:

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish State. It is also the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, co-drafted by our namesake, French Jewish Jurist Monsieur René Cassin, in response to the horrors of the Holocaust and representing a global commitment that such atrocities would never be allowed to happen again.

For the first time, through the International Human Rights framework, humankind had agreed to a statement of ethical behaviour that would ensure the “inherent dignity… of all members of the human family” as the foundation of justice and peace; an ethical vision for a new world based on social progress.

The Declaration offers a clear and direct juxtaposition to the ‘crimes against humanity’ tried at Nuremberg. The ghettos and camps imprisoned, enslaved, and ultimately murdered millions, and in response came Articles 3, 4 and 5 protecting the right to life, liberty, and freedom from torture. Jews, alongside Roma communities and others, were stripped of citizenship, had businesses stolen, and were denied access to state infrastructure. In response, Articles 15, 17 and 19 were set up to protect rights to equal and universal access.

Monsieur Cassin always maintained that human rights sprang from the same roots as Judaism: “Human rights are an integral part of the faith and tradition of Judaism. The belief that man was created in the divine image, that the human family is one, and that every person is obliged to deal justly with every other person are basic sources of the Jewish commitment to human rights”.

The international human rights framework is the legacy created for us by Monsieur Cassin. [1] It is a legacy founded on values of tolerance, fairness, compassion and justice – the same values at the core of the Jewish faith and culture. It was these values that determined the Jewish people’s fate throughout the last two thousand years of our history – resulting in destruction when they were not applied to us, and survival and prosperity when their core tenets were upheld.

75 years since the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the establishment of the State of Israel – envisioned as both a Jewish and Democratic state – this legacy is at risk.

The principles and ideals embedded in the Declaration are codified across the world in instruments such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. This legacy of the Holocaust is one that the world should be proud of, but one that it often forgets. The history of the Declaration and other subsequent treaties as a demand for a world that not only says, but means, ‘never again’, is essential to the recognition of its importance. Similarly, principles regarding the rule of law, separation of powers and minority protection from the overextension of majority rule must be seen through the lens of the Holocaust as historical proof of their essentiality.

The recent reforms taking place in Israel threaten to remove crucial checks and balances on the government by overhauling the judiciary and weakening the protections it affords to minority groups and to the human rights of non-citizens. These proposals, underlined by convoluted ideals of Jewish supremacy, pose a real threat to the essence of Jewish moral, ethics, and values. It stands in stark contradiction to the tradition and practices of the Jewish people as champions of minority rights and jeopardise the fundamental values of tolerance, compassion, and justice we hold dear. The reforms risk the vision of Israel as a country that can be both Jewish and democratic and endanger the attitude towards Jews and Judaism as a tolerant, compassionate, and inclusive people and faith.

For those of us who believe in tolerance, equality, and justice; those of us who understand the responsibility we have in carrying the human rights legacy of the Holocaust – this is a historic junction.

We recognise that we are at a point of radical emergency of crisis of the Jewish people. We therefore call for the cessation of all steps that risk the core values of human rights, democracy, and rule of law.


[1] And many other Jewish scholars including the Polish Jewish lawyers Hersch Lauterpacht (who helped codify crimes against humanity) and Raphael Lemkin (who helped define genocide), amongst many others.

Is René Cassin a cross-communal organisation?

René Cassin works across the Jewish community to achieve our vision of a world where everyone fully enjoys all their human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We acknowledge the rich diversity of the British Jewish community and seek to work with individuals and groups from the whole spectrum of the Jewish community. Supporting human rights is a thoroughly Jewish concept that transcends any denominational or ideological division.

Why ‘René Cassin’?

We are named after Monsieur René Cassin, a French-Jewish law professor and judge. He was a co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.