This article is not a review but is intended to bring to the notice of the general public a signal event by an outstanding Sri Lankan judge and jurist which will occur in the next few days in several global capitals such as the Hague Netherlands and in the United Kingdom. On Monday, November 17 [...]

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Towards one world -Memoirs of Judge C.G. Weeramantry


This article is not a review but is intended to bring to the notice of the general public a signal event by an outstanding Sri Lankan judge and jurist which will occur in the next few days in several global capitals such as the Hague Netherlands and in the United Kingdom.

On Monday, November 17 this book will be launched at a special ceremony at the International Court (World Court) in The Hague, Netherlands. Thereafter, there will be similar launches in Oxford and Cambridge Universities and at the University of London.

The Sri Lankan launch of the book will be on Monday, December 8 presided over by the Dutch Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Holland being the country which hosts the International Court of Justice at the Hague. The date of the Book’s launch at the Hague (November 17, 2014) is significant for other reasons as well. It marks the 25th Anniversary of Judge Weeramantry’s appointment as a Judge of the International Court and also his birthday.

This Third Volume of Judge Weeramantry’s Memoirs on The “International Court and Thereafter” is the culmination of a series of three Volumes that he decided to write after his retirement from the World Court. The first two were published and highly acclaimed. The first volume entitled “The Sri Lankan Years” dealt with Judge Weeramantry’s legal and judicial career in Sri Lanka. The second volume entitled covered his life in Australia from 1972. 1990 – a span of eighteen years where he held the prestigious post of a Professor of Law at Monash University and also won global recognition in International Law with his several texts and contributions in that area. This third and final volume covers his nine years as a Judge of the International Court at the Hague from 1991 – 2000 and his continuing activities after his retirement in the area of global justice and peace.

Judge Weeramantry needs no introduction in Sri Lanka. He is the country’s most renowned jurist. His writings have contributed immensely to changingviews on the many subjects he has written. He has won international recognition for his work, through such awards as the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Judge Weeramantry’s contribution to international law was considered so noteworthy that when the City of The Hague celebrated its 750th Anniversary in 1996, he was selected as the personality representing The Hague’s excellence in international law, one of 18 areas in which The Hague had achieved distinction over the years.

With over a garland of academic honours and awards, Judge Weeramantryis the author of around 25 books, President and Patron of several international peace-related organisations and has lectured to audiences in over 50 countries.This third and final volume of Judge Weeramantry’s Memoirs relates the fascinating story of the origins, the work and the potential of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. The book takes the reader through Weeramantry’s years at the Court. These were noteworthy for the many outstanding issues that came before it, among which were the legality or illegality of nuclear weapons, the protection of the environment for future generations, the role of equity in international law and the impressibility of unilateral interference in the affairs of other states, without prior authorisation from the Security Council of the United Nations. It also shows how Judge Weeramantry endeavoured to introduce cross-cultural perspectives into international law so as to strengthens its authority and universal acceptability.Other topics covered include judicial ethics, peace education and reflections on the role of lawyers and judges.

In a Foreword to this book, Judge Peter Tomka, the current President of the International Court of Justice says, “Judge Christopher Weeramantry is one of the foremost international legal thinkers of our time. During more than six decades of his outstanding legal career, he had not just practised law but had been pondering on broader philosophical, cultural and religious issues in the search for justice and the true meaning of law and legal order. Indeed, he devoted considerable time and energy investigating the concept of legal order, which in his view should aim at achieving peace and harmony in communities and national societies with a view to forming a truly global world”.

President Tomka adds that when Judge Weeramantry was appointed to the World Court in 1990, its activities had increased and Judge Weeramantry made many signal contributions to the court’s work. He authored a number of separate and sometimes dissenting opinions. His international judicial output totalled over 20 opinions. In them he expressed his views rather comprehensively. Three of these separate opinions deserve particular mention. In the Jan Mayen case (Denmark v. Norway), Judge Weeramantry dealt with the concept of equity in international law and its role in maritime delimitation. His 137 page Dissenting Opinion in the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons unequivocally confirms his firm anti-nuclear stance. In Weeramantry’s view, the threat or use of such weapons is unlawful in any circumstance. Finally, in the Gabcikovo – Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia) case, he wrote what can be considered as an interesting and highly informative essay on the evolution of the concept of sustainable development through previous centuries, if not millennia.

In his Foreword, Justice Tomka also recognises two other significant contributions of Judge Weeramantry to the World Court and states:
“The Court is particularly grateful to Judge Weeramantry for the leadership role he took during the preparation of the Court’s golden jubilee – its 50th anniversary in 1996. The two books published on that occasion remain of interest and relevance even today. The magnificent, richly illustrated book by Arthur Eyffinger, titled The International Court of Justice 1946 – 1996, traces the historical origins and development of the Court, including its antecedents and different intellectual and cultural influences. It also contains interesting biographical sketches of all Judges who served on the Bench during the first half century of the Court’s existence. The other book, entitled Increasingthe Effectiveness of the International Court of Justice, contains proceedings from the colloquium held jointly by the Court and UNITAR. Judge Weeramantry played a crucial role in the preparation of this work.

This third volume of Judge Weeramantry’s Memoirs chronicles the intensive period of his nine years in the Hague, containing a number of interesting observations on many cases which were considered by the Court at that time, while of course fully respecting the confidentiality of the Court’s deliberations”.

Apart from Justice Weeramnatry’s significant judgments and contributions during his tenure as a Judge of the World Court, his book contains an excellent outline of the varied activities undertaken by Weeramantry after his retirement from the Court in 2000 until today including the work of the International Centre for Peace Education which he established in Colombo.

In that context, this third and final volume of Judge Weeramantry’s Memoirs will be fascinating reading not only for lawyers and judges, but also for all those interested in human rights and universal justice. It will also be necessary reading, hereafter, for students, lawyers and judges studying international law and the work of the International Court.

A Stamford Lake Publication the book is priced at Rs 3,000 and can be obtained before the Colombo launch in Colombo in early December by contacting Mr. Balachandran of Stamford Lake, Telephone 077-3059372.

Book launch at The Hague

Volume III of the Memoirs of Judge C.G.Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice, is to be released in the International Court of Justice this week.

This volume deals with the Judge’s years as Judge and Vice President of the International Court of Justice and the years thereafter.
It is perhaps the most detailed survey of the work of the International Court of Justice as observed from within the Court.

The President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Peter Tomka, has written the Foreword and will preside at the launch.
The volume will be introduced by Dr. Arthur Eyfinger, the most prominent historian of international law and the International Court. A large number of judges of the Court, both past and present, including past Presidents such as Dame Roslyn Higgins, will be attending.
Some former Heads of State are also expected to attend, as well as Judges and Officials of various international courts and organisations at The Hague.

Coincidentally, the event will be on November 17, the birthday of the Judge and also the 24th anniversary of his election to the Court.
After the launch at The Hague, there will also be a launch at the Lauterpacht Centre at Cambridge University and at King’s College, University of London.

Judge Weeramantry will also be attending two important conferences in Vienna, dealing with the influence of religion and international law and the illegality of nuclear weapons, topics to which he has devoted much attention in his writings and judgments, and which are examined in some detail in the volume to be released.

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