CITES pays tribute to Françoise Burhenne-Guilmin

Updated on 28 October 2022
Françoise Burhenne-Guilmin
(photo: IUCN ELP)

With great sadness the Secretariat must report the untimely death of Dr Françoise Burhenne-Guilmin, one of the main architects of CITES.

After graduating as a Doctor in Law at the University of Brussels, in 1966, Dr Burhenne-Guilmin worked for IUCN, first as Secretary to the IUCN Commission on Legislation and, from 1970, as Legal Officer. It was at this time that she worked on many drafts of the text that was to be signed as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In 1973, she became Head of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre (ELC), in Bonn. She held this position until 1999, and was then Senior Counsel to three consecutive directors of the ELC.

Dr Burhenne-Guilmin was instrumental in drafting several international conventions, agreements and instruments, but her passion was the development of technical capacities through access to information on environmental law and policy.

Her lifelong contribution to environmental law was acknowledged through many recognitions, distinctions and awards such as the Better World Society Medal for Protection of the Global Environment (1989), the 1991 International Environment Prize of the United Nations, and the Elizabeth Haub Prize for Environmental Law (2008).

She was committed to the development of a young generation of environmental lawyers. In January this year, the IUCN Council paid tribute to this commitment by establishing the Françoise Burhenne Fellowship in Environmental Law.

The world has lost one of its great international environmental lawyers and many of us have lost a close personal friend and mentor. Her legacy lives on through her vast body of work and through each one of us who benefited from knowing and learning from her.


CITES Secretariat
26 August 2013