A vibrant tribute was paid to Jacques Isnard, in particular through an evocation of his work and the screening of a film retracing more than thirty years of actions in the service of the profession of this exceptional man with an exceptional career, including fifteen years at the head of the UIJH, by Mathieu Chardon, First Vice-President of the UIHJ, Françoise Andrieux, Honorary President of the UIHJ, Marine Isnard, granddaughter of President Jacques Isnard, and Marc Schmitz, President of the UIHJ. On this occasion, President Schmitz presented Marine Isnard with the first Jacques Isnard Gold Medal which was engraved for the occasion, in tribute to President Isnard.
Speech by Mathieu Chardon, 1st Vice-President of the UIHJ
When Jacques Isnard went to Paris in recent years, I would meet him in the evening for dinner, sometimes also with Honoré Aggrey. These moments of sharing are forever engraved in my memory. At the end of one of our last dinners, he thanked me for keeping him company. I told him it was I who thanked him for the privilege of spending time with him. He smiled. “Thank you, “mon petit”, you are kind“.
A year ago, today, Jacques Isnard left us. A father went away for his family but also for his children that we are, us, the judicial officers of the world, and all those who had the chance to meet Jacques the Builder. Because that is what he really was, a builder, uniting around him the vocations and energies without which the UIHJ would not have become one of the largest international organisations of jurists.
Inspired by his predecessor, Baudouin Gielen, whose memory he regularly saluted, he revolutionised the UIHJ, both in terms of its ambitions, objectives, and means, while striving to preserve its soul, the spirit of the great family of judicial officers, the spirit of the Union so dear to his heart. Not a day goes by where a judicial officer somewhere in the world, or a person who has crossed his path, thinks of him and his work, and salutes the memory of this exceptional and providential man.
With him everything was possible. Nothing resisted him. He accomplished the feat of having put in place the structures which allowed his successors, Leo Netten, Françoise Andrieux and Marc Schmitz, to continue his work and to allow us today to be proud of who we are and of what we stand for. Without him, we wouldn’t be here today. The man is gone. The President has made history.
Speech by Françoise Andrieux, Honorary President of the UIHJ
Talking about Jacques Isnard in two minutes is a real challenge! It would almost offend him when you know how well he knew how his eloquence was rooted on the art of rhetoric. But due to time requirements, I chose to tell you about him through four character traits.
A self-taught lawyer. Jacques was initially a self-taught lawyer. He hadn’t attended university, but obviously the fairies of justice had leaned over his cradle. He had become an outstanding jurist through his experience, his will, and his love of law. And perhaps because it was lacking, he devoted his life to training, as a founder pioneer then President of the National School of Procedure which he then associated with the UIHJ by developing training in our profession on all the continents.
A visionary. Jacques knew where to go and how to get there. His mind constantly busy, he always showed the way. With a few loyal colleagues from the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal, of which I had the honour to be a part, he created a quarterly newsletter called “Le Parlant à“. He always participated in preparatory meetings even when he was invested in important functions (President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of France, President of the UIHJ). He came up with a case law to comment on or an idea to develop. when we look back into these bulletins, which are more than 20 years old, we find reflections on mediation, conciliation or even on the dangers of the drift of the profession towards a more commercial than legal approach, and we then realise that everything he had seen or sensed is gradually emerging…
A leader. Working with Jacques was like being part of a team. He was the soul, the cement. He said: “To form a team takes years, to destroy it takes five minutes”. But the teams he led never fell apart. They still exist. Of course, we worked a lot when he was around, but human values were privileged, and unwavering bonds of affection and friendship were created thanks to him, with him and around him.
A passionate man. Not only passion was part of his DNA but, something rarer, he had the gift of transmitting it. When he left the Union Presidency in 2009, he did not leave the Union. In the years that followed, together with Natalie Fricero, we drafted the Global Code of Enforcement. These were stunning working days at the rhythm of the interludes imposed by his wife Michèle who prepared lunch for us and during which, ever and ever, we remade the world of justice and its whereabouts… Between two meetings, the phone rang: “Hello my President“. “Hello “ma fille”, I have been thinking, we should start again, we forgot this and that” and for an hour we reviewed everything… Finally, the last professional meeting with him was for the start of the Global Code of Digital Enforcement and here again passion outweighed his dislike in new technologies… Jacques Isnard was that: a man essential to our profession, called “the Father of Africa”, and for me a professional father.
Speech by Marine Isnard, granddaughter of Jacques Isnard and President of the Association for the Promotion of the Work of Jacques Isnard
“The death of Jacques Isnard is like a burning library,” wrote the Chadian President Elysée Eldjimbaye. Of all the messages my family and I have received from all over the world over a year ago, this is one that particularly stood out for me. Jacques Isnard, my grandfather, was even more than a library. One of the most remarkable qualities he had in my opinion was that throughout his life he was curious about everything, he always increased his knowledge on so many different subjects.
Passionate about cultures, languages, countries, populations, and their traditions, he had the chance with your Union to travel and discover the world. From all his travels, I have received a multitude of postcards and souvenirs, most of which have always adorned our holiday home in Haute-Savoie. This place was a bit like his peace haven, where he liked to work, rest, and above all spend time with his family. What he also enjoyed on his travels was the discovery of local flavours, even if my grandmother Michèle’s dishes, always accompanied by a good glass of red wine, remained his favourites in the global culinary hierarchy!
A great stamp collector, my grandfather developed, as you know, a particular passion for history with a capital H, thanks to his stamp collecting passion. He often said that “through stamps, we learn the history of France“. He also nourished his knowledge by his love for reading and old books, to which we loved, together, to give a second life. Always between paper sheets and documents, my grandpa had, from an early age, developed a sensitivity, if not a real talent, for drawing and painting. You should know that if you have ever spent a few minutes on the phone with him, he would listen to you with one ear, while sketching a few drawings on the other end of the phone.
Curious about everything, my grandfather was not only President of the National Chamber of Judicial Officers of France and of the International Union of Judicial Officers. He also chaired our city’s football club, a sport he has always been passionate about, and which he played as a goalkeeper, just like my little brother Romain today.
Salon, precisely, this land of Provence, which gave him his accent, has always remained his city, the one where he grew up, founded a family, and started his professional career. It was undoubtedly his interest in our city that later inspired my father to become involved in politics. And if there ever was a day when my grandfather and I were filled with pride, it was when my dad became mayor of the city a few years ago now.
But as Mathieu has shown, the main passion that marked my grandfather’s daily life was of course his profession, your profession, to which he devoted his life. This is particularly what he wanted to share through the Hostiarii Museum, formerly in Paris. These premises brought together all the books and objects he had collected to retrace and teach the history of the profession of judicial officer.
From a young age, my grandpa has always introduced me to and made me aware of different legal fields, particularly through this museum. It is thanks to him that I have now found my way, and as he told me with a laughter, during one of the last times we saw each other, when I said preferring law to Political Science: “You won’t do like your father, you will do like your grandfather”. Yet, before I reach his legal level, I have a long way to go!
Therefore today, I represent with pride and emotion the Association for the Promotion of the Work of Jacques Isnard which, from 3 December, will inaugurate the Jacques Isnard Gallery in the Adec premises in Montpellier. With several former colleagues, we have chosen to put back on its feet the historic work of law and justice that my grandfather had created, which is also a beautiful way to pay tribute to him, because I know what this exhibition meant to him. I hope it will continue to exist for as long as possible, for students or enthusiasts alike, and we look forward to welcoming you there very soon.
Before concluding, I would of course like to thank you very much for the tribute paid to him today, thank you for allowing me to be present, and above all thank you, on his behalf, to all of you who have helped and accompanied him and for allowing him, during his long career, to carry out all his projects which were so important to him.
My grandpa having always transmitted to me his bond and his adoration for Africa, I will conclude by quoting another of his former colleagues who wrote a year ago: “A baobab has just fallen“. Indeed, one of the baobabs in your profession has died, but it is also my baobab tree and that of my family who has left, leaving behind unforgettable memories, like the person he was.
Speech by Marc Schmitz, President of the UIHJ
My dear Marine,
Today is both a sad and a happy day. A sad day because exactly one year ago today, the greatest amongst us, your grandfather, Jacques Isnard, left us, struck down by this terrible pandemic which counts so many victims. A sad day because we especially miss him today. A happy day because, as we all know, without him, without his work, we would not have gathered here in Dubai. A happy day because, as we also know, wherever he is, President Isnard is with us today and he is pleased to see us here, all together, united around his passion, our profession.
What a long way since September 1994 when he took the leadership of the UIHJ. What a long way since September 2009 when he allowed the destiny of the Union to be entrusted to Leo, then to Françoise, then to me, always continuing to be at the service of the profession and its caring and attentive protector. How far you have come, Marine, since those moving photos in which we see you as a child and then as a teenager. Jacques has always told us how much, beyond all the love he has for you, you impressed him with your maturity, your intelligence, and your discernment, and how much you made him proud. You have just confirmed to us that the genes of the Isnard family have all been perfectly passed on to you and nothing could make us happier. You have just shown that, like your grandfather, you choose to put yourself at the service of a cause, not because it allows you to show off, but because it appears to you to be right and the path to follow. The Association for the Promotion of the Work of Jacques Isnard, of which you are the President, and the upcoming inauguration of the Jacques Isnard Gallery that you have created are obvious examples of this.
Jacques Isnard was a library and a baobab. He will forever embody the spirit and soul of the International Union of Judicial Officers. We will never forget him. He will continue to be a source of inspiration for all of us, for all the judicial officers and for all those who had the chance to meet him and even more to work with him. It is for all these reasons that we decided during the 24th International Congress of Judicial Officers of Dubai, dedicated to the memory of Jacques Isnard, to celebrate him by creating the Jacques Isnard Gold Medal.
With very special thoughts for him, his wife Michèle, your parents and your brother Romain and all your relatives, today I am very moved, proud, and happy, dear Marine, to hand you, in the name of the Union International of Judicial Officers and all judicial officers of the world, the first Jacques Isnard Gold Medal.