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IN MEMORIAM Professor Dr. Henri A. (Or) Wassenbergh

<i>This message is to remember his inspiring contributions to the global development of air and space law, the formation of innovative aviation policy and his dynamic commitment to the International Institute of Air and Space Law at Leiden University.</i>


Professor Dr. Henri A. (Or) Wassenbergh
16 August 1924  - 1 February 2014


-       Emeritus Professor of Air and Space Law
-       Honorary Chairman of the International Institute of Air and Space Law (IIASL) of Leiden University
-       Honorary Chairman of the International Law Debating Society Prof. mr. B.M. Telders
-       Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion, and recipient of prestigious foreign awards








After obtaining his law degree in Amsterdam in 1950 and his PhD in Leiden in 1959, Dr. Henri Wassenbergh was appointed Professor Extraordinarius of Air and Space Law at the University of Leiden in 1977, and Professor Ordinarius in 1991. Demonstrating his vision, drive and energy, he founded the International Institute of Air and Space Law in 1985, of which he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1985 until 2000. Upon his retirement, he became Honorary Chairman.


His career as a practitioner


Joining KLM in 1950 as Secretary to the legendary Albert Plesman, founder and lifelong President of the company, Henri Wassenbergh was immersed in commercial aviation from the early days, and became a legend in the field of international commercial aviation law and policy. During the years he was with KLM, he was engaged in inter- airline and, as a delegate of the Dutch government, in inter-governmental negotiations in commercial aviation matters. In those negotiations, he was well-known for his prowess and his characteristic directness tempered with a great sense of humour. Sometimes he pre-empted discussions in negotiations by sending in advance to his opposite number his latest learned treatise on the subject that had just been published.

In 1957 he joined KLM’s Foreign Relations and Co-operation Department, of which he became Head in 1967. In 1973, he was appointed Senior Vice-President in charge of Foreign Relations and Co-operation, a position which he held until his retirement in 1990.





Since the 1950’s, Professor Wassenbergh wrote several books and nearly 200 articles, which cover practically every aspect of international commercial aviation law and policy in their successive phases of development over the years. He also published on the subject of space law, including his book “Principles of Outer Space Law in Hindsight” which appeared in 1991.  His numerous air law publications have been compiled by Professor Chia Jui Cheng from Taiwan in a book of about thousand pages entitled “Regulatory Reform in International Air Transport: Selected Essays over a Period of Fifty Years 1950-2000” (2000).

Professor Wassenbergh advocated liberalisation of international air transport and freedom of the air, as excecuted in plurilateral and multilateral regimes. At the inauguration of the IIASL 1986, he made a strong plea for the inclusion of air transport as a trade in services under GATT, proceeding from a global view on the operation of air services.




Professor Wassenbergh was known and appreciated for his animated and inspiring lectures, both for students, including the PhD researchers whom he successfully supervised in the 1990s, and presentations at myriad international conferences which he attended around the world. His views have been and are cited by academics, students, practitioners and professionals in the aviation industry. His ideas are still up to date and implemented in various fora. We will remember him as a unique, innovative and thought provoking scholar.





Books published by Professor Wassenbergh, available in the library of the Leiden Law School:

- Post-War International Civil Aviation Policy and the Law of the Air - 1962

- Aspects of Air Law and Civil Air Policy in the Seventies - 1970

- International Air Transport in The Eighties - 1980
Edited by H.A. Wassenbergh and H.P. van Fenema

- Principles of Outer Space Law in Hindsight - 1991

- External Aviation Relations of the European Community - 1992

- Air and Space Law: De Lege Ferenda - 1992
Essays in honour of Henri A. Wassenbergh

- Regulatory Reform in International Air Transport - 2000
Henri A. Wassenbergh's Select Essays Over a Period of Fifty Years 1950 - 2000
Edited by Chia-Jui Cheng


Last Modified: 12-03-2014
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