An astute statesman, academic and jurist
‘A well-respected statesman, academic and jurist. But above all, a warm-hearted human being,’ was how Frans Timmermans summed up the late Peter Kooijmans, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs.
‘His integrity, independence and sharp mind were evident in all his work. He was honest, strict when necessary, and blessed with a great sense of humour. He took a genuine interest in others. These traits made him much-loved, not only by his students, but by everyone who had dealings with him. He was a true gentleman.’
Mr Timmermans paid tribute to Professor Kooijmans as a specialist in international law and champion of human rights. He served as UN rapporteur on human rights and as the first rapporteur on torture. He remained a passionate defender of human rights as a minister and as a judge at the International Court of Justice. His publications bear witness to this fact.
He was, said Mr Timmermans, both an idealist and a pragmatist. ‘He tempered the ideological zeal of the Den Uyl government, using humour to encourage greater pragmatism and a sense of perspective. Conversely, while serving in the ‘no nonsense’ third Lubbers government, he brought his idealism to bear on foreign policy.’