Special Book Launch in London

By Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

Representatives of the Canadian High Commission in London, Oxford University Press, Chatham House and McGill University's Centre for International Sustainable Law (where the eminent Judge C.G. Weeramantry is patron) were the hosts at the Canada House, London on 9 May, 2005 at a special reception held during the launch of the books Sustainable Justice: Reconciling Economic Social and Environmental Law ( Martinus Nijhoff Press) edited by Marie-Claire Cordonnier Seger and Judge C.G. Weeramantry, Sustainable Development Law: Principles, Practices and Prospects ( Oxford University Press) by Marie -Claire Cordonnier Seger and Ashfaq Khalfan .

In international law the concept received a major impetus from the Separate Opinion of Judge Weeramantry in the Danube dams case between Hungary and Slovakia in which the Judge opened the boundaries of International Environmental Law to the influence of various world civilizations, citing in particular Sri Lanka's ancient irrigation system.

Judge Weeramantry mentioned this as one of the great inspirational sources through which a number of modern legal concepts could be reinforced, such as Trusteeship of Earth Resources, Rights of future generations and Communal Rights and Duties. This landmark opinion had a considerable influence on the development of the McGill Centre and triggered off many new lines of development in environmental law. That opinion is also viewed as having opened International law in general to the richness of world cultures, instead of being a mono-cultural, Eurocentric system as it had tended to be for centuries.

The keynote address at the book launch was delivered by Judge Weeramantry who referred to the growing importance of sustainable development in bridging the gap between the developed and developing worlds. In the course of his address he referred specially the significance of the Sri Lankan irrigation system in the context of modern environmental law.

The toast to the authors was proposed by Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, Professor of International Law at Cambridge University and founder of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law.

The McGill Centre for Sustainable Development Law is in close association with the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and some important joint projects between the two centres are under discussion.

The books represent perhaps the most substantial contribution thus far to the concept of Sustainable Development which is rapidly emerging as one of the key developing fields of International law

The book launch was attended by a number of members of the diplomatic community in addition to the leading scholars in the field. The Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in London, Mr. S.S. Ganegama Arachchi, was among those who attended the reception.



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