By Kalana Senaratne
(Eminent Legal luminary Christopher Gregory Weeramantry has passed away at the age of 90. This article written in “The Island” of November 23rd 2008 in honour of Judge weeramantri’s 82nd Birthday is being re-published here as tribute to an illustrious son of Mother Lanka. The writer who was once a researcher at the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research was attached to the UNDP in Timor-Leste at the time this article was written)
I had picked up a small book on ‘The World Court’ from a dusty shelf of a bookshop close to my home, in Nugegoda. I had flipped through it, realized the importance of its content, and decided to purchase it. I had heard much about the author and even read some of his previous publications. But I didn’t know where he was or what he was doing, then. The small print in the book referred to a ‘Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research (WICPER)’ established in Colombo – the existence about which I had not known until then. The author must have returned home from The Hague, I thought.
Sri Lankabhimanya Christopher Gregory Weeramantry, AM (November 17, 1926 – January 5, 2017)
The author was none other than Judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on 17th November. Born in 1926, he has had a most dazzling legal career spanning 60 years; firstly, as a lawyer and law lecturer in Sri Lanka and then as the youngest Supreme Court judge in the country; thereafter, as Sir Hayden Starke Professor of Law at Monash University, before becoming a judge and Vice President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague. He has then traversed the great mountain ranges and peaks of a vast legal landscape. He currently trots the globe delivering speeches and lectures to eminent international audiences. WICPER, which was founded by Judge Weeramantry in 2001, is a small but ambitious research centre, dedicated to the promotion of peace education, cross-cultural understanding and international law. I too, was once, a very small part of it.
C. G. Weeramantry is a name that belongs to many generations. Past generations would know him well. The same cannot be said about the present one, unfortunately. This, I fear, is mostly due to his own humility; which has been the defining trait of this larger-than-life legal luminary. Some would know of his enormous contribution to legal literature, domestic as well as international, having read, studied and analysed his innumerable scholarly work. Some others have been more privileged to work with him, to have had the opportunity of interacting with him. Since I fall into this privileged second category, I will conveniently avoid trespassing on specialist territory belonging to the former. For me, Judge Weeramantry is more than what he is to legal scholarship and jurisprudence.
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