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Right Livelihood Award for Justice Christopher Weeramantry

The Right Livelihood prize, the so-called ‘alternative Nobel prizes’, was awarded on Friday evening at Swedish Parliament in Stockholm to peace and environmental activists from Sri Lanka, Kenya, Canada and Bangladesh.

Justice Christopher Weeramantry was among them.

Accepting the prize, Justice Weeramantry called for peace education to all levels of the public from schoolchildren right up to the judiciary.

He pointed out that there is a vast amount of unawareness of the work of the great peace philosophers of the past, of the peace movements and of the peace conferences. When this knowledge is more generally available there will be a great increase in peace-related activity on the part of the public.

“Science careering uncontrolled is one of the greatest dangers that humanity faces in this technological age. Probing the causes of the rich world / poor world dichotomy, and devising ways of promoting better understanding of the problems of the developing world.

This also involves a study of the legacies of colonialism and the ways in which they can be corrected. The growing disparity between North and South is a potential cause of major conflicts in the future,” he added.

He said the world must ponder on how the world’s repositories of ancient wisdom can be harnessed to strike a balance between the needs of development and the needs of environmental protection.

He said it is not commonly known that at least 15 basic principles of international law, achieved through the sacrifice of millions of lives, are absolutely violated by the nuclear weapon.

Universalising international law and making it more acceptable internationally was also essential. Seeking to resolve the mutual lack of understanding between the worlds of Islam and Christianity should also be a priority.

“Legal professions need to be weaned away from their exclusiveness and remoteness from the people they serve.

I have written extensively on this subject and this has resulted in the institution of a Law Day or Law Week in various countries including Australia and Sri Lanka, during which the legal profession goes out into schools and public places to explain the legal system to the public,” he remarked.

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