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Event Report: Global Religious Wisdom, International Law and Conflict

This originally appeared in the Sunday Times Sri Lanka

In a thought-provoking lecture Sri Lanka’s internationally-renowned jurist, academic and author, Prof. Christie Weeramantry warned that if the 21st continued in its destructive and bungling ways there would be no 22nd century

Describing the modern day as the most rapacious in history Prof. Weeramantry blamed the power of money, the power of science and the military for pillaging the earth.

He said that thousands of years-old religious teachings that called on rulers and the ruled to protect and preserve the environment and safeguard natural resources are being neglected or rejected, breaking the age-old nexus that existed between religion and human conduct.

A former Judge of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, a professor of law at Monash University in Australia and a justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, Prof. Weeramantry was speaking to an audience of barristers, solicitors, law students and others in London last week on global religious wisdom as an enrichment of international law and an aid to the solution of current conflicts.The lecture was organised by the Association of Sri Lankan Lawyers in the UK and The Cordoba Foundation.

Referring to the world’s major religions- Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism- he said that the wisdom expressed by these religions and the religious leaders 3000-4000 years ago had anticipated today’s international law.


Whereas the wisdom of those religions should have formed the foundations of international law and the conduct of countries and rulers, those wise words are in reality ignored or relegated to the background despite the lip service paid to religion.


Prof Weeramantry also debunked the belief among some in the western world that international law was essentially a creation of the west. Such a conclusion, he said, is untenable because several thousand years earlier all major religions had reflected on and pronounced on a whole gamut of human activities.

Citing various religious teachings Prof. Weeramantry showed modern international law had already been anticipated by these religions which originated in Asia.


Drawing on his experience as a teacher and an international judge Prof. Weeramantry lamented that the teaching of law today remained an arid discipline and appealed to the legal profession to help rebuild the bridge between religion and international law.

 

The original and more detailed article can be accessed here 

For photographs of the event please click here

 

 

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Neville de Silva