William E. Rappard

William E. Rappard

William Emmanuel Rappard, born 22 April 1883 in New York, died 29 April 1858 in Bellevue, grew up in the United States of America before settling down in the Geneva area in his adolescence. He studied jurisprudence at the University of Geneva, where he obtained a doctorate in 1908; between 1905 and 1909 he travelled abroad, to Berlin, Munich, Harvard, Paris and Vienna. His first academic occupations were lectureships for economic history in Geneva and for Economics at Harvard University, before he was called ordinary professor for economic history and public finance by the University of Geneva. He was the eminent promoter of the faculty for economic and social sciences at this university as well as the founder and later director of the well-known “Institut Universitaire de Hautes Études Internatio­nales” in the same town. Between 1917 and 1920 he engaged his person for the interests of the International Red Cross, and in 1919 he represented the Swiss government at the Peace Conference held in Paris and promoted Geneva as the future seat of the League of Nations (where he served his country as delegate) and defended the idea of Swiss neutrality. Later in his life he invested his personality to the demands of labour protection (in 1951 he even signed as president of the International Labour Organisation).

On the international level he truly was a pacifist, and on the level of the nation state he distrusted nationalism as a danger for peace. His interest in legal thought showed his intention to protect the individual from an all-mighty state, which is documented in his study “L’individu et l’État dans l’évolution constitutionelle de la Suisse” (1936). As an example, and model for sound democracy he represented the pre-history of the republic of Geneva prior to the foundation of the Swiss federal state, in the so-called era of Regeneration in Switzerland (“L’avène­ment de la démocratie moderne à Genève 1814-1847“).

For more information and a comprehensive bibliography, please consult:

Victor Monnier: William Emmanuel Rappard – Défenseur des libertés, serviteur de son pays, Genève: Édition Slatkine, 1995.

Selected Works of the Author

William E. Rappard: L’avène­ment de la démocratie moderne à Genève 1814-1847, Genève: Alexandre Jullien, 1942; Idem: La consitution fédérale de la Suisse 1848-1948, Boudry: La Baconnière, 1948; Idem: La révolution industrielle et les origines de la protection légale du travail en Suisse, Bern: Stämpfli, 1914 (reprint Zürich: Schulthess, 2008).