Dear sisters and brothers,
It is with much sadness that I inform you of the passing away of Justice Christopher Weeramantry yesterday. He had turned 90 in November 2016.
A volume meant to honour him on his 90th birthday will be published shortly. He had a chance to look at the manuscript before he passed away. I am one of 60 contributors to that huge volume.
Weeramantry was a lead speaker at JUST's International Consultation on "Faith, Shared Wisdom and International Law" on 6th October 2010 held in KL. Out of this consultation emerged the "Initiative on Shared Wisdom" project which brought together Weeramantry's outfit in Sri Lanka, JUST and Prof Joseph Camilleri's Pax Christi in Australia. The aim of the ISW was to harness the values and principles in our spiritual traditions and apply them to the challenges of the contemporary world. Unfortunately, the paucity of financial resources hampered us from carrying out the requisite research. We were forced to close shop in 2014.
On this theme of how shared values from religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism could be brought to bear upon issues such as poverty, economic disparities, corruption, freedom of thought and action, rule of law, accountability, and cultural and social diversity, Weeramantry was in a class by himself. Erudite, empathetic, and passionate, the Judge's ambition in later years was to disseminate knowledge and understanding of the values we share as one human family to people everywhere in order to strengthen unity and harmony within our species. He wrote extensively on this subject especially in relation to the protection of the environment.
As some of you may know he drew upon the vast reservoir of 'eternal wisdom' to craft some brilliant decisions in his role as Vice-President of the International Court of Justice ( the World Court). His decisions on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, on the apartheid wall in occupied Palestine and on the US bombardment of Nicaragua would be among his outstanding judicial achievements. He was often lionized as a courageous, principled and honest international judge.
For many of us, Weeramantry was undoubtedly one of the greatest jurists of the contemporary world. His legacy is enshrined not only in his landmark decisions from the bench of the World Court but also in his scholarly writings in international law and in his social activism.
As a person, Weeramantry was warm and kind, affable and approachable. Those who came to know him, were always impressed by his sharp intellect, his prodigious memory and his eloquent tongue.
May he rest in peace. May God Almighty bless his soul. May God reward him in the hereafter for all his good deeds on earth.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, and staff of IAIS Malaysia.
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