The best way to honour Judge Weeramantry is by learning from and using his legacy

With the passing of Judge C.G. Weeramantry on 5 January the peace, disarmament and sustainability movements have lost a monumental figure. Judge Weeramantry dedicated his life to strengthening and expanding the rule of international law and demonstrated how the rule of law can be used to address critical global challenges such as the continued threat of nuclear weapons, the protection of human rights and the protection of the environment.

In addition to being one of the brightest legal minds on these issues, he was a tireless activist. Nuclear weapons were always a particular concern of his. As we face a future still marked by the nuclear threat, his wisdom and activism will be sorely missed. Fortunately, in the five decades spanning his career he has produced some of the most pioneering, convincing and eloquent analysis and arguments on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons.

We would do well to revisit some of Judge Weeramantry’s treatises and learn from them as we continue to make the case for a world free of nuclear weapons. These include:

 

  • Dissenting Opinion, International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons

    As relevant today as when he wrote it, Judge Weeramantry’s strong dissent from the majority’s decision to leave undetermined the legality of the use of nuclear weapons in self-defence when the survival of the state would be at stake, is one of the most authoritative and comprehensive arguments on the illegality of nuclear weapons “in all circumstances and without reservation.”

    See here for a summary.

  • Why the Nuclear Danger Grows from Day to Day

    The World Future Council co-published this informative booklet with the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research on the occasions of the 2005 and 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences. In concise yet convincing arguments, Judge Weeramantry highlights the uniqueness of the nuclear threat and how our complacency risks the human future: “Never in the history of humanity has such urgency existed in relation to any issue and never were the consequences so devastating to the human future and to all that we hold dear. The danger grows not from year to year or from month to month but from day to day.”

As long as nuclear weapons exist, Judge Weeramantry’s unique insights and arguments remain powerful and pertinent. Using the legacy he has left us to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons would be the greatest tribute we can pay him.

Judge C.G. Weeramantry

World Future Council mourns death of founding member and Honorary Councillor Judge Weeramantry

The World Future Council is deeply saddened by the loss of founding member and Honorary Councillor, Judge C.G. Weeramantry who passed away in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 5 January 2017.

Judge Weeramantry was a Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from 1991 to 2000, serving as its Vice-President from 1997 to 2000 and a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka from 1967 to 1972.

During his time as an ICJ judge, Weeramantry contributed to several landmark cases before the Court. These included a case on the illegality of the use and threat to use of nuclear weapons where he shared remarkable and poignant observations, and the case concerning the Gabcikovo-Nagymaros project which contributed to the furtherance of international sustainable development law.

In the course of his professional career of over five decades as lawyer, legal educator, domestic judge, international judge, author and lecturer, Judge Weeramantry played a leading role in several developing areas of the law. These included the illegality of nuclear weapons, sustainable development, rights of future generations, exploring the interface areas between law and religion and promoting cross cultural understanding.  He was also a passionate advocate of peace education which he believed should include teaching principles of international law at an early age.

He has written over twenty books, most of them extremely influential and translated into many languages, and lectured extensively on these topics in over forty countries.  His book, ‘Nuclear Weapons and Scientific Responsibility’ pioneered the concept of ethics in science, challenged the notion that science is neutral, and introduced the idea of a ‘Hippocratic oath’ for scientists. His book ‘Tread Lightly on the Earth’ offers a pronounced insight and analysis of the concerns of the world’s principal religions with the preservation and nurturing of the natural environment.

After stepping down from the ICJ, Weeramantry took up the position of President of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and continued advancing the application of international law for the benefit of peace and humanity in his new position. This included drafting, and presenting to the UN Security Council a seminal statement on the illegality of the preventive use of force, endorsed by over 200 prominent judges, legal scholars and lawyers from around the world. As IALANA President he also penned an influential public statement, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, on the application of future justice principles to nuclear energy – in order to highlight its illegality and stupidity.

The Judge was founding Chair of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law’s International Commission, and then, for 16 years, Patron‎ of the Centre, which is based at McGill University in Montreal, Cambridge University, the University of Nairobi, and the University of Chile.

Weeramantry also founded the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research which produced a vast corpus of research and writing based on Weeramantry’s legal knowledge and philosophy for humanity.

Judge Weeramantry received a number of prestigious awards including the Sri Lankabhimanya (highest National Honour of Sri Lanka), Right Livelihood Award (‘Alternative Nobel Peace Prize’) and the UNESCO Peace Education Prize, which he received in recognition of his commitment and concrete undertakings in support of the concept and culture of peace through his career.

With this letter our heartfelt condolences go out to his family. Judge C.G. Weeramantry will be missed as a friend as well as a moral authority.

MA students, with course director Dr Rama Mani, musician Paul Grant, UNOG Library and WFC staff

“The Transformative Power of Justice”: A Creative Tribute on UN Human Rights Day

On December 8th, 2016, the United Nations in Geneva marked UN Human Rights Day in dramatic style. The UN Library in Geneva partnered with World Future Council, Geneva Academy and the UN Missions of Afghanistan and Cyprus to host an event entitled ‘The Transformative Power of Justice’ featuring an unprecedented format of theatre, music, poetry, testimonies and a high-level roundtable dialogue.

Following an evocative welcome by the UN Library Director, Mr. Francesco Pisani, Mr. Adam Abdelmoula, Director of the Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, set the scene by underlining the challenges of securing human rights in the today’s turbulent context, and engaging the participation of all citizens of the world.

“This invites us to witness what is, to imagine what can be, and to enact the change we need in our lives and in the world.” 

A diverse group of MA students from 5 continents, 28 nationalities, and collectively speaking over 16 languages, offered a multi-cultural production on transformative justice and human rights through the arts. They are the first generation of the Master of Advanced Studies in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and The Rule of Law at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. As part of their program, the students were introduced by Dr. Rama Mani to Transformative Justice and the Theatre of Transformation, which in Mani’s own words “invites us to witness what is, to imagine what can be, and to enact the change we need in our lives and in the world”. In the words of the MA students, through this course, “Professor Mani opened our spirits into a different way of thinking and applying transformative justice in post conflict societies. She helped us dream big and envision the changes we want to make in this world.” 

MA students (and kids) performing

MA students’ and kids’ performance of peacebuilding.

The power to enact transformative justice was potently portrayed in the students’ presentation. Starting with poignant renditions of ancient and original poems on justice in Persian and Arabic, students representing all five continents converged to offer a riveting Theatre of Transformation performance. They enacted brief testimonies of victims and perpetrators from around the world who, stage by stage, witnessed destruction, awakened new possibilities, envisioned change, and enacted transformation in their lives and in society. The students’ performance culminated poignantly with one MA student’s four small children portraying child soldiers who reject their weapons and choose to build peace for future generations. Mani then enacted three evocative real-life testimonies of individuals she has met and collaborated with in post-conflict countries, to demonstrate the two key messages of Transformative justice: in order to be transformative for individuals and societies as a whole, justice has to

(i) include all people in society, whether victims, perpetrators, bystanders or beneficiaries, and

(ii) integrate all dimensions of injustice, cultural, ecological, and metaphysical, in addition to legal and political.

An unforgettable highlight was the music performed by Paul Grant, the world-renowned maestro of Indian, Iranian, Afghan and Kashmiri music (www.Paulgrant.net). Mr Grant, who has been instrumental in preserving the ancient musical traditions of war-torn countries like Afghanistan, lent his blissful melodies on sitar, santoor and table to accompany the entire performance and enrapture the audience.

Roundtable with Ambassadors from Cyprus, Colombia and Afghanistan, chaired by Dr Mani

Roundtable with Ambassadors from Cyprus, Colombia and Afghanistan, chaired by Dr Mani.

The performance paved the way for a profoundly insightful high-level roundtable, featuring Ambassador S. Dalil from Afghanistan, Ambassador A. Ignatiou from Cyprus, Mr. Valencia representing Ambassador Londoño Soto from Colombia, and Mr. Abdelmoula from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Each speaker commended the students for bringing to life so creatively and compellingly this transformative approach to justice and rights. Each speaker expressed how the joint performance had affected them personally and informed them professionally. In turn, each of the distinguished panellists brilliantly applied the transformative justice lens to analyse the journey and lessons learned in each of their countries, and from their own diverse experience.

Ambassador Dalil’s illuminating analysis of Afghanistan underscored the need to redress structural injustice and recognise the interdependence between security, justice and development. The lessons learned from Afghanistan emphasise that justice has to empower the community and be bottom-up, inclusive and human-centred. “Justice has to be population-owned and population-managed,” she concluded.

Justice has to empower the community and be bottom-up, inclusive and human-centred.

Ambassador Ignatiou reiterated the key learning from the students’ performance that transformative justice has to be comprehensive, broad and inclusive. His fine analysis of the complex conflict in Cyprus demonstrated, through several examples, that although ‘the past doesn’t rest neatly in the past but affects the future and the present,’ it is still possible to pursue reconciliation and cultural justice even concluding peace.

Ambassador Londono was represented by Counsellor Mr. Valencia, who pointed out that “justice has been the most complex and most criticized” part of the peace process in Colombia. Yet, Colombia’s justice package marks a turning point for Transitional Justice, as it is innovative in its integrality and holistic nature, with truly transformative potential for Colombian society and for the future of transitional justice.

Mr Abdelmoula drew on his extensive experiences addressing transitional justice from Somalia to Iraq to Liberia to point out that ‘no country is immune to conflict’. He noted that ‘forgive and forget is the cause for repetition’ of conflict. He recommended that to avoid this vicious cycle it is essential “to dig deeper, analyse, expose and keep memory alive,” and he underlined the imperative to give a much greater leadership role to women in justice and peace.

The lively interaction with the highly diverse audience raised pertinent concerns, fascinating questions and insightful remarks on the diverse dimensions and applications of transformative justice.

This unique and fascinating event exposed the convergence between students, speakers and audience members on the need for a new, inclusive and transformative approach to justice. It confirmed that the human dimension is key to restore justice and build peace. They confirmed that arts, culture and creativity are essential to chart new avenues to secure rights in today’s turbulent context. It reminded us that the principles and practices of transformative justice are not new but timeless, harking back to indigenous cultures and ancient civilizations around the world. It reaffirmed that in today’s divisive context it is essential to go beyond retribution and build inclusive, integrated and transformative justice to secure durable peace.

– By Clarita Montant, Ingrid Heindorf, Daniela Ferreira and Dr. Rama Mani

Refugee children

New report: Exemplary practices to protect refugee women and girls in the EU

Hamburg, 16 December 2016 – Women and girls fleeing from war, persecution and violence in their home countries are particularly at risk of sexual and gender-based violence during their journey to safety and when they arrive in the European Union. In advance of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the World Future Council, filia.die frauenstiftung and UN Women National Committee Germany launch a report on good practices to better protect refugee women and girls in the EU.

Read more

Refugee children

Protecting refugee Women and Girls from Violence

Abstract

The aim of this report is to suggest positive actions that international organisations, local, regional, or national authorities, civil society organisations and NGOs can take to better protect refugee women and girls from violence. This is with the goal of promoting the exchange of good and promising practices and opening up a space for transnational dialogue, experience-sharing and peer-to-peer learning.

 

Protecting refugee Women and Girls from Violence

protecting-refugee-women-and-grils-from-violence

Abstract

An increasing number of refugees worldwide are women and children. In many cases, they are forced to leave their homes due to armed conflicts, insecurity or generalised violence. For women and girls, their migration experience is shaped by some particular features, the roots of which lie in the gendered forms of violence they may face throughout their journey. Some may leave their country of origin because of experiences of gender-based violence or in fear of such violence. Without regular pathways to reach a country where they can seek international protection, women often have to resort to dangerous routes. During their journey, they are exposed to sexual and gender-based violence.

However, once they reach their destination, many women and young girls still face risks due to limited access to support services, a lack of effective procedures to identify survivors of gender-based violence and inadequate reception conditions in accommodation facilities.

The aim of this report is to suggest positive actions that international organisations, local, regional, or national authorities, civil society organisations and NGOs can take to better protect refugee women and girls from violence. This is with the goal of promoting the exchange of good and promising practices and opening up a space for transnational dialogue, experience-sharing and peer-to-peer learning.

 

A century of weapons of mass destruction

At the invitation of the mayor of the town of Ypres, WFC project manager Holger Güssefeld spoke as a representative of the citizens of Hamburg at the conference “A century of weapons of mass destruction: FINAL!”. On April 24, 2015, he recalled the Hamburg bombing of 1943.


 

The meaning of the endogeneity of money for ‘conventional QE’ and the different kinds of ‘helicopter money’

The-meaning-of-the-endogeneity-of-money-for-conventional-QE-and-the-dif-hm

Abstract

Financing large scale climate investments and other SDG duties needs new tools. One tool could be a new kind of monetary finance by the central banks. The future finance department of the WFC developed a theoretical background paper which demonstrated how the new tool works and why it precisely fits with recent findings of economic science.

The Transformative Power of Justice: can justice prevail over power?

To mark Human Rights Day, the World Future Council and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights are co-organizing a special event on December 8th, focusing on the “Transformative Power of Justice”.

8th December 2016 / 12:30 - 14:15

Library Events Room (B-135) Palais des Nations, Building B, Door 20, 1st floor

Through a combination of diplomatic and political expertise as well as a dynamic performance, multi-media presentation, and an interactive dialogue, the event will address some thorny questions: can justice prevail over power? Can humanity survive brutality? Can right overcome might? And, most importantly, can the human rights agenda be strengthened and not circumvented during turbulent transitions?

Eminent guest speakers confirmed their presence for the high-level round table that will be moderated by World Future Councillor Dr. Rama Mani and that will provide diverse perspectives on human rights challenges and transformative justice applications in times of volatile transition:

  • H.E. Ambassador Suraya Dalil, Permanent Representative of Afghanistan
  • H.E. Ambassador Beatriz Londoño, Permanent Representative of Colombia
  • H.E. Ambassador Andreas Ignatiou, Permanent Representative of Cyprus
  • Mr. Adam Abdelmoula, Director of Human Rights Council and Treaty Bodies Mechanisms Division, OHCHR

Moreover, a lively theatrical performance by Dr. Rama Mani, who is also Director of the Geneva Academy’s MA course on Transformative Justice, will vividly portray real cases of transformative justice, accompanied by renowned musician Mr. Paul Grant and by MA course participants hailing from transitional societies and diverse countries.

Held at the United Nations Office in Geneva from 12:30 to 2:15pm, the event and reception are kindly co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan and Permanent Mission of Cyprus to the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Invitees not in possession of a UN badge should register on the UNOG website at www.unog.ch/librarytalks, bring a valid ID and a copy of this invitation on the day of the event to the Pregny Gate, located at 8-14 Avenue de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10.

COP13: Costa Rica and the Benefits of Prosperity Sharing

Today, the thirteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP13) kicks off in Cancun, Mexico. Delegates from around the world are expected to add shape and definition to their country’s long term commitments to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Back in 1998, Costa Rica introduced a Biodiversity Law which protects not only the variety of animal and plant life in the country but also the genetic and biochemical resources derived from them. In 2010, the country won the Future Policy Award 2010 for their successful approach.

Raising awareness of biodiversity loss, which is threatening wildlife, the environment and our common future, has been at the core of the work of the World Future Council for many years. In the face of the looming biodiversity crisis, policy-makers must work urgently towards ambitious and comprehensive policies – and good solutions already exist. In the run up to the conference we interviewed a number of policy influencers in Costa Rica, a country well known for its success in combining the use of its biodiversity with economic growth.

Back in 1998, Costa Rica introduced a Biodiversity Law which protects not only the variety of animal and plant life in the country but also the genetic and biochemical resources derived from them. In 2010, the country won the Future Policy Award 2010 for their successful approach.

Patricia Madrigal Cordero, Vice-Minister of the Environment, said that the law also shields the intellectual property rights associated with traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous people from commercial exploitation by outside actors.

How, then, has Costa Rica been so successful in protecting its biodiversity whilst maintaining steady economic development and being named the world’s happiest country in a report published by the New Economics Foundation? Silvia Rodriguez-Cervantes from the Ecological Federation of Costa Rica, an NGO, points out that the Biodiversity Law established a new authority to manage the country’s biodiversity resources by combining government ministries with civil society groups. This demonstrates a successful power-sharing agreement between different levels of governance to ensure that no one group has total control over the genetic and biochemical resources of the country.

Policy-makers stand to learn a lot from the Costa Rican model, which incorporates a policy mix of governance-sharing, wealth distribution and protection for minority communities. Three key ingredients for a happy and healthy society.

Secondly, the objectives of the law have been socially inclusive from the outset. With Article 1 of the Law aiming to conserve biodiversity as well as to; “…distribute in an equitable manner the benefits and derived costs”.

With inequalities of wealth increasing across the globe, policy-makers would do well to see the Costa Rican Biodiversity Law not only as a piece of effective environmental legislation, but also as a policy that attempts to share the benefits of increased prosperity more evenly across society. To read in more detail how Costa Rica has achieved these goals visit our Policy Database.

Policy-makers stand to learn a lot from the Costa Rican model, which incorporates a policy mix of governance-sharing, wealth distribution and protection for minority communities. Three key ingredients for a happy and healthy society.

On that note we wish all delegates and participants at the COP13 in Mexico a fruitful and productive conference.