Judge Christopher Weeramantry: His Influence and Legacy

Christopher Weeramantry was a Sri Lankan lawyer who served as a judge on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from 1991-2000. When the ICJ considered the legality of nuclear weapons, he issued a dissenting opinion that use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances would be illegal. In the event the ICJ declined to rule out nuclear weapons under all circumstance but did insist that “there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith…negotiations leading to the nuclear disarmament”. Judge Weeramantry was a distinguished academic as a professor of law at Monash University, and wrote a series of authoritative books on international law, human rights, and environmental law.


Weeramantry was a gentle man, possessing extraordinary vision and a towering intellect. He had a capacity to extend the boundaries of international law, and motivate lawyers and educators around the world to accept changes in legal practice.  His unwavering commitment to persuading the people of the Western world to recognize the oneness of humanity earned him many awards and honours. He was made an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia in 2003, awarded the UNESCO Peace Prize in 2006 and the Sri Lankabhimanya, the highest National Honour of Sri Lanka in 2007. He died in Melbourne in 2017 at the age of 90.


Exhibit text from an address by Ian Fry (Edited by Rafal Hassan and Michael Hamel-Green)