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Mireille Delmas-Marty (1941-2022)

By Luis Arroyo Zapatero

Header photo courtesy of Simone Pierini, Captured at the end of November 2021.

On Saturday the light of the most brilliant French jurist of all time went out. Full of intellectual strength, creativity and attraction rested to recover from a traditional health incident next to the castle of Gôutelas, in Forez. There she had deposited her academic sword, a precious jewel encrusted with metaphors, its library of legal humanism and, last september, the installation of the "compass of the possible", to orient ourselves in these stormy times in which, in addition to a compass, a wind rose is required.

She was a professor from the early 70 successively in Lille, Paris XI y Paris I, Sorbonne, where he created the Master's and Doctorate Unit common to Parisian Universities. On 2002 was elected head of the Chair of Comparative Legal Studies and Internationalization of Law for the College de France, where he retired in 2011. In all that time, he has sown his passion for Law and theoretical and methodological innovation among a true academic family spread over the five continents.. On 2007 was appointed Academician of Moral and Political Sciences of France.

Doctor Honoris Causa by more than eight universities, He was a member of the Mexican Academy of Criminal Sciences, of the American Law Institute, of the leadership of the International Association of Criminal Law and the International Society for Social Defense. He directed the most important magazine of criminal sciences in France and in the midst of a pandemic he founded a new and innovative European Law Review.

As a criminal lawyer, he has left a significant mark on the French Penal Code of Mitterand and Badinter, in the regulation of the new criminal process and in the construction of Europe through Law, especially as one of the four speakers at the A body of law. His promotion of the European Office for the fight against fraud was also notable. (OLAF) and the design and creation of the European Public Prosecutor's Office.

In the eighties he elaborated a complete treatise on economic criminal law and the principles of a modern criminal procedure system.. But perhaps his most relevant contribution has been his general theory of comparative law aimed at international legal harmonization., which is the most notable contribution to a globalization governed by human rights, issue that has been his most intense passion. Finally, Its contribution to the international incrimination of ecocide deserves to be highlighted.. On 2007 received in Istanbul the first prize H.H. Jescheck from International Association of Penal Law.

The first of his visits to Madrid was in 1980, for a conference on the reform of economic criminal law on the occasion of the Draft Code of that year. in october 2009 received together with Cherif Bassiouni the Beccaria Medal of the International Society for Social Defense in a solemn ceremony held in the Congress of Deputies chaired by José Bono, the attorney general of the State Cándido Conde Pumpido and the president of the Supreme Court Carlos Dívar. The last of his visits was, precisely, to promote the creation of the international crime of ecocide on the occasion of the climate summit held in Spain in December 2019.


The imaginative force of Law: a tribute to Mireille Delams-Marty

Emanuela Fronza. Professor at the University of Bologna, Italy

Posted in Law Warehouse on 20 february 2022

"You don't live in regrets, you live on projects”, he liked to repeat Mireille Delmas-Marty.

The 12 february 2022, late in the morning, Mireille Delmas-Marty left us. Desde Saint-Germain-Laval, in the Monts du Forez, surrounded by her friends and her books, he had faced the situation with courage. She had gently accepted the limits of our humanity., without stopping feeding the projects. Until the end she lived as a humanist.

In a thin body lived a woman of extraordinary strength. your resistance (the day could go by without more interruption than a cup of tea and some biscuits) and his tenacity were admired by those who saw this fragile figure putting his workforce at the service of legal humanism.

Professor of criminal law and holder of a chair at the Collège de France, Mireille Delmas-Marty was more than a lawyer. She was a master thinker, able to see and make visible the invisible, lo intangible, to tell the world lucidly, what we are and our possible futures.

Throughout his life, shaped original legal thinking, inspired reforms, suggested new paths and expanded our understanding of the world. throughout his career, chaired commissions, contributed to institutions such as the National Ethics Council or the Oversight Committee of the Anti-Fraud Office, he directed innumerable collective research projects and wrote more than twenty books, translated into more than twelve languages.

He was a cosmopolitan intellectual figure with a typically French finesse.. Your enthusiasm for the world, her passion for exchanges and her intellectual curiosity led her to free herself from physical borders and disciplines to think about the law that did not yet exist. He used to say that jurists were the explorers of "a world that must be dreamed of before it has any chance of definitively existing.".

Driven by the conviction that law can only be placed at the service of humanity, put this vision into practice very early to react to changes in the world and forge new tools - the European Public Prosecutor's Office- and frameworks of thought -such as solidarity sovereignty-. utopian but also realistic, her pioneering spirit led her to passionately explore emerging notions such as the crime of ecocide. His career has been marked by his almost prophetic ability to decipher the profound dynamics we face today., like the constriction of the planet, that already evoked in 1992 in what is undoubtedly one of his masterpieces, «The major systems of criminal policy«, translated in addition to Spanish, to Chinese and Persian.

after family law, business criminal law and then criminal policy in the years 80, continued to observe the profound transformations of the law. First, with the writing of another of his avant-garde texts, «The vagueness of the law«, and then with the chair that was awarded to him at the Collège de France, that he chose to dedicate himself to comparative studies and the internationalization of law.

Mireille had the desire to change the world and the courage to chart a course, and then follow it decisively. The strength of his imagination allowed him to win several battles, achieve reforms and leave their mark on the institutional landscape.

Facing the "disorders" of globalization, inspired by the poet Edouard Glissant, proposed to rely on the idea of globality. But since words were no longer enough, he resorted to other languages ​​to translate his thoughts and convey his message to the greatest number of people. Together with the artist-builder Antonio Benincà, imagined and created the "Compass of Possibilities", an object-manifesto destined to question our loss of orientation in a world crossed by contrary winds and to help us find the path of justice and social peace. This compass is installed in the cultural center of Goutelas, very close to the place where Mireille died. A place of utopias, a place of roads, a place where law and art meet.

Mireille Delmas-Marty has left us. We already miss the richness of our conversations, our discussions, Your honey, your support, his ability to listen and his immense intelligence. But his thought is still very much alive, an immense inheritance, vibrant in what will continue to be what she called a "family in the four corners of the world".

Thank you Mireille for teaching us to walk without fear, without accepting easy antinomies and embracing complexity. Thank you for having taught us the rigor of analysis and the crucial role of law in the foundation of the human community.. Thank you above all for teaching us that dreams are needed to be a lawyer, joy and imagination.


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