2012 International Environmental Law Award Recipient – Judge Christopher Weeramantry

The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is pleased to award the 2012 CIEL International Environmental Law Award to Judge Christopher Weeramantry for his profound contributions to the progressive development of international environmental law. The CIEL International Environmental Law Award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to solving environmental problems through international law and institutions.

A lifelong advocate, Judge Weeramantry served as the Vice President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. During his tenure at the ICJ, Judge Weeramantry was involved in a number of significant cases. Of particular note is his separate opinion in the Gabčíkovo-Nagymoros case. In this opinion, Judge Weeramantry provided a comprehensive analysis of the application and importance of the principle of sustainable development in modern international law. His analysis provided a legal basis for the reconciliation of competing developmental and environmental interests in international projects, highlighting the need to continually assess environmental damages associated with development.

Judge Weeramantry also authored Nuclear Weapons and Scientific Responsibility, which addresses the legality and morality of nuclear war. His reasoned humanitarian approach to this topic was evident in his comprehensive dissenting opinion in the historical ICJ case: Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons. This dissenting opinion unequivocally held that humanitarian law, particularly at an international level, rendered the use of nuclear weapons illegal in all circumstances. Through providing both a legal and philosophical analysis of the use of nuclear weapons, Judge Weeramantry established a powerful and compelling humanitarian perspective on international environmental law.

Judge Weeramantry continues to address the threat of nuclear armaments through his role as President of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. His dissenting opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case and the Gabčíkovo-Nagymoros opinion have both contributed to the recognition of human well-being and ecological integrity as guiding principles in the interpretation and application of modern international law. These opinions continue to resonate to this day.

Throughout his career, Judge Weeramantry has offered his considerable knowledge and dedication to many organizations, programs and institutions through his work as a lawyer, professor, domestic and international judge and author. Judge Weeramantry has also served as Chair of the Nauru Commission of Inquiry and as Councilor of the World Future Council. His contribution to the advancement of international law, with particular focus on humanitarian and environmental protection, is of global importance to the field of modern international law. The CIEL International Environmental Law Award complements Judge Weeramantry’s existing awards and accolades, which include the Lifetime Achievement Award of The Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education, Sri Lankabhimanya – the highest national honor of Sri Lanka, and the Right Livelihood Award.