Antonio Sánchez de Bustamante y Sirven

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Antonio Sanchez de Bustamante Sirven
Antonio Sanchez de Bustamante about 1922.jpg
Taken about 1922 in his robes as Justice of the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague.
BornApril 13, 1865 (1865-04-13)
Havana, Spain
DiedAugust 24, 1951 (1951-08-25)
Havana, Cuba

Antonio Sánchez de Bustamante y Sirven (April 13, 1865 in Havana, Spain – August 24, 1951 in Havana, Cuba) was a Cuban lawyer, professor of Public and Private International Law, Senator to the Cuban Congress, politician and two-time Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague (1922–1944).


Sanchez de Bustamante completed his elementary and secondary studies in Colegio de Belén of the Society of Jesus in Havana, and in the Instituto Cardenal Cisneros in Madrid. His father, Juan Manuel Sánchez de Bustamante y García del Barrio, was a physician in Havana and Professor of Descriptive Anatomy at the University of Havana. Bustamante started his studies of law at the Central University of Madrid while his father served as Senator in the Spanish Cortes. Bustamante returned to Cuba and completed his degree of licentiate of civil and canon law at the University of Havana in 1884. A year later he completed a doctoral dissertation about the historical evolution of the Council of State, and earned the degree of doctor at the University of Havana.

Law Professor

Bustamante competed for and obtained the chair of Public and Private International Law of the University of Havana in 1891. He held that chair until his June 1951, confirmed by the U.S. Governor in 1899 and by the Cuban Republic after 1902.


He served in the Cuban Senate representing in different terms the provinces of Pinar del Río and Havana from 1902-1916. From that position, Bustamente chaired in several congressional periods the Senate Committee on Justice and Codes, and was a member of the Committee of Foreign Relations. He was the author of the first Cuban law regulating the procedures of constitutional judicial review passed by Congress in 1903 and in force until 1949, with amendments in 1922 and 1935. Bustamante supported progressive bills of the time like the Divorce bill of 1914.

Leader of the Havana Lawyers[edit]

From 1913 through 1923, Bustamante was the Dean of the Havana Bar Association. From that position he organized the 1st National Legal Conference in December 1916. The conference was designed to promote the revision and update of the entire legal system, replacing the Spanish laws by modern legislation that responded to Cuban realities.

National and International Academies[edit]

Bustamante was the first president of the National Academy of Arts and Letters established by the Cuban republic in 1910. He was also one of the founding members of the Cuban Academy of the Spanish Language. From 1942 until his death in 1951 he was the President of it. Bustamante was also the founder and president of the Cuban Association of International Law, and founder, Vice-President and President of the International Academy of International and Comparative Law of The Hague.

The Constitutional Convention of 1928[edit]

In 1928, he presided over the Constitutional Convention that amended the Constitution of 1901 and permitted President Gerardo Machado to serve a second term in office without elections. Although the political opposition to Machado and to the constitutional reform of 1928 was limited before 1930, after Machado was overthrown in August 1933, Bustamante was subject to a political trial by revolutionary tribunal organized by university students and stripped of his chair in the Havana Law School. In 1936, he was reinstated to it.

International work[edit]

He was the foremost Cuban authority on international law through his death. Bustamante participated as Cuban delegated in the II Peace Conference of The Hague in 1907, and a year later was appointed judge of the Arbitration Court of The Hague. In 1919, he was the Cuban diplomatic representative to the Peace Conference in Paris. In 1921, he was elected by the League of Nations as judge to the Permanent Court of International Justice, and reelected in 1930 for a second term that must have expired in 1942. Bustamante was one of the founders, vice-president, and later president of the Academy of International and Comparative Law of The Hague in 1923. He authored of the Code of Private International Law, Bustamante Code, approved by most Latin American states in the VI International Conference of Havana (1928), which he presided.

For his Code, President Gerardo Machado granted him the Cross of the National Order of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the highest decoration of the Cuban republic. Bustamante was awarded honorary doctorates in La Sorbonne, Columbia University, and the Universidad de San Marcos de Lima among others. Bustamante presided over and participated in the II and III International Congress of Comparative Law held in 1935 and 1937. He was nominated in 1949 by Nefali Ponce, the Foreign Minister of Ecuador for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Family and local practice[edit]

Bustamante married Isabel Pulido Pages, the daughter of a prominent Havana physician, in 1885. They had three sons, Gustavo and Antonio Arturo Sánchez de Bustamante Pulido, both prominent attorneys, and a third son, Dario, who died while still a law student. One of Bustamante's grandsons, Antonio Sanchez de Bustamante Montoro, was also a lawyer and a professor of Philosophy of Law at the University of Havana. Bustamante's law firm was located at Calle Aguacate #502 in Old Havana since 1884. For almost a century represented powerful business interests in Cuba.