Dr Michel Bourély passed away on 26 April 2012, aged 92.

Michel Bourély was born in Dakar, Senegal on 1 January 1920 to Joseph Bourély and Geneviève Berguerand.

Upon returning from Senegal, Michel Bourély lived with his parents in cities where his father, an artillery officer in the colonial garrison had been posted – first to Vincennes then to Hanoi where Major General Bourély held senior office.

He completed his secondary education at the Institution Montesquieu in Libourne, Lycée Albert Sarrault in Hanoi, then at the Lycée Alphonse Daudet in Nîmes, leaving in 1936. He then started as a first-year law student at the Faculty of Law of Montpellier. His parents having returned to Indochina in 1937, he came to Paris to complete his university studies at the Faculty of Law Paris-Panthéon. He obtained the degree of Doctor of Law in 1944.

After passing the entrance examination for the Judiciary in 1942, he was first assigned to the Ministry of Justice in Paris and continued his career as a magistrate with the Tribunal de Grande Instance.

During his professional activities, he was placed for several occasions on secondment, with both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Défense Nationale to carry out various activities outside France.

From 1946 to 1948, he was government commissioner to the Innsbruck tribunal within the French-occupied zone in Austria. Then, in Germany he worked, from 1948 to 1952 at Baden-Baden in various capacities in the legal service of the French-occupied zone there. In 1952, he joined the office of André-François Poncet, French High Commissioner in Germany in Bad Godesberg and in 1955 returned to Baden-Baden as General Counsel of the General Commander of French Forces in Germany (FFA).

He was sent to Morocco as part of a technical cooperation from 1958 to 1962 as Advisor to the Court of Appeal in Rabat. He undertook functions within the office of Chief of Legislation of the Moroccan Government, under the reigns of Mohammed V and Hassan II during which he was appointed as an Officer of Alawite Wissam in 1962.

Back in France in 1962 and still on secondment, he joined the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) as Legal Adviser for External Relations. In July 1974, he joined the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) as General Counsel. During these years he acted as Secretary of the European Space Conference.

Upon creation of the European Space Agency (ESA) in 1975, he was appointed General Counsel, Head of Intellectual Property, a position he exercised until 1983 when he retired.

Within these European space organisations, he was responsible for the preparation of various legal instruments upon which they were based: the conventions establishing such organisations, implementing regulations, constitution texts, activities programmes, agreements with Member States and frameworks for international cooperation.

Since his retirement, Michel Bourély continued to be interested in space issues, particularly with regard to their legal aspects. As such, he was a member of various associations, French and international, dealing with space issues in general and especially those dealing with international law and space law.

He was elected as an Honorary Director of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) in 1995, after having served many years as its Treasurer, and was a Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

He was an honorary member of the Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace (ANAE), Honorary President of the French Society of Air and Space Law (SFDAS), Vice-President of the Association for the Development of Space Law in France (ADDEF) and member of the European Centre for Space Law (ECSL). He was also a member emeritus of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Association of France (3AF), member of the International Law Association, the French branch of the International Law Association (ILA) and member of the French Society of International Law (IRFS ).

Michel Bourély lectured, and authored numerous articles about space organisations and space law. His articles have featured in such publications as the Annuaire Français de Droit International (Paris),in the Annals of Air and Space Law (Montreal),in the Journal of Space Law (Mississippi), the Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), and in the Revue Française de droit aérien et spatial. He also contributed to several edited volumes dealing with these disciplines.

Finally, he was co-founder and Treasurer, and later Secretary General of the International Court of Air and Space Law in Paris.

Among his other activities, he was Chairman of the l’Association syndicale du Front de Seine (FWA) from 1997 to 1999 and was a member of the Board of Directors of AAPOCAD.

Dr Michel Bourély was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1966 and promoted to Officer in April 2003.

He was the author of:

  • Manuel de Droit Public Marocain (2 volumes), Librairie Médicis (1965)
  • La Conférence Spatiale Européenne (Armand Colin, 1970)
  • Fascicule 195 sur les Organisations de l’Espace des Jurisclasseurs de droit international (1966-1981)

His articles on space law and on European space organisations appeared for instance in the following publications:

  • Revue Française de Droit Aérien et Spatial (Paris)
  • Journal of Space Law (Mississippi)
  • Annals of Air and Space Law (Montreal)
  • Proceedings of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL)
Categories: Memoriam