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.