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Gerhart Baum receives honorary doctorate from the University of Cologne

Baum was a member of the German Bundestag from 1972 to 1994 and Federal Minister of the Interior from 1978 to 1982. To this day, the alumnus of the Faculty of Law is committed to human rights and civil liberties. As a lawyer, he has represented victims of accidents and crimes and their families.

[This content is not available in "Englisch" yet] Rektor Joybrato Mukherjee, Oberbürgermeisterin Henriette Reker, Gerhart Baum, Professorin Angelika Nußberger, Dekan Professor Bernhard Kempen (v.l.n.r.)

At a ceremony on 30 January 2024, former Federal Minister Gerhart Baum was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Cologne’s Faculty of Law. The award ceremony was organized by the Academy for European Human Rights Protection and was attended by Cologne’s Mayor Henriette Reker, the University's Rector Professor Dr Joybrato Mukherjee, and numerous members of the Faculty of Law.

Gerhart Baum, born in 1932, has been a member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) since 1954 and was a member of the German Bundestag from 1972 to 1994. From 1972 to 1978 he was Parliamentary Undersecretary and from 1978 to 1982 Federal Minister of the Interior in the social-liberal federal government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. From 1992 he worked for the UN, first as head of the German delegation in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva and later as UN Special Representative on human rights in Sudan. He is still active for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

As a lawyer, Baum was involved in a number of successful constitutional complaints before the Federal Constitutional Court, for example against the Act to Combat Organized Crime (implementation of surveillance measures in private homes, the so-called Großer Lauschangriff). Gerhart Baum also successfully lodged a complaint against the North Rhine-Westphalian law on the secret online search of private computers and was one of the complainants against the Data Retention Act. In his law practice, Gerhart Baum also represented the victims of the terrorist attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and the Loveparade catastrophe in Duisburg in 2010.

Rector Professor Dr Joybrato Mukherjee said: “With this honorary doctorate, the university honours Gerhart Baum's multifaceted commitment to freedom and civil rights in our country and all over the world. He is a role model for our students, also because of his clear stance against right-wing extremism.”

Professor Dr Bernhard Kempen, Dean of the Faculty of Law, stressed how rarely the Faculty awards honorary doctorates. He highlighted the concept of freedom that Baum has always advocated, which he sees in the tradition of political enlightenment: “Growing up, I was influenced by how strongly Gerhart Baum stood up for a concept of freedom that is not restricted to the free market. His commitment to fundamental and human rights is another reason why we will collectively remember his time as Minister of the Interior for a long time.”

Press and Communications Team:
Jürgen Rees
+49 221 470 3107