International Court of Justice



Press Communiqué 97/2

6 February 1997

Judge Stephen M. Schwebel elected President

of the International Court of Justice

Judge Christopher G. Weeramantry elected Vice-President

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, 6 February 1997. Stephen M. Schwebel of the United States of America, a Judge of the International Court of Justice since 1981, today was elected President of the Court for a three-year term.

Christopher G. Weeramantry of Sri Lanka, a Judge of the Court since 1991, was elected Vice-President.

The fifteen-member Court, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, adjudicates disputes between States and gives advisory opinions to the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies. In recent years, the Court has had more cases on its docket than ever before.

The current composition of the Court is:

President Stephen M. Schwebel (United States of America)

Vice-President Christopher G. Weeramantry (Sri Lanka)


Shigeru Oda (Japan)

Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria)

Gilbert Guillaume (France)

Raymond Ranjeva (Madagascar)

Géza Herczegh (Hungary)

Shi Jiuyong (China)

Carl-August Fleischhauer (Germany)

Abdul G. Koroma (Sierra Leone)

Vladlen S. Vereshchetin (Russian Federation)

Rosalyn Higgins (United Kingdom)

Gonzalo Parra-Aranguren (Venezuela)

Pieter H. Kooijmans (Netherlands)

José F. Rezek (Brazil).

Biographical data on Judge Schwebel and Judge Weeramantry is attached.



Judge Stephen M. Schwebel


(Member of the Court since 15 January 1981; re-elected as from 6 February 1988 and from 6 February 1997; member of the Chamber formed to deal with the case concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary in the Gulf of Maine Area (Canada/United States of America), 1981-1984, and of the Chamber formed to deal with the case concerning Elettronica Sicula S.p.A. (ELSI), 1987-1989; Vice-President of the Court from 1994 to 1997)

Born in New York City, on 10 March 1929.

Harvard University, B.A. magna cum laude with highest honours in government (1950); Cambridge University, studies in international law (1951); LL.B., Yale Law School (1954). Doctor honoris causa, Bhopal University, India (1982).

Admitted to the Bar of the State of New York (1955); of the Supreme Court of the United States (1965); and of the District of Columbia (1976).

Attorney, White & Case, New York (1954-1959).

Assistant Professor of Law, Harvard University (1959-1961).

Professor of International Law and subsequently Edward B. Burling Professor of International Law and Organization, the School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C. (1967-1981). Visiting lecturer or professor at Cambridge University (1957, 1983); the Australian National University (1969); the Hague Academy of International Law (1972); the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva (1980); and at other universities or institutes in the United States and elsewhere.

Assistant Legal Adviser, Department of State (1961-1966); Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (1966-1967); Consultant to the Department of State (1967-1973). Counselor on International Law, Department of State (1973-1974); Deputy Legal Adviser, Department of State (1974-1981).

Legal Adviser to the United States delegation, and Alternate Representative in the Sixth Committee, during sessions of the United Nations General Assembly (1961-1965). United States representative and chairman of the United States delegation to various committees of the United Nations, including the Special Committee on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States (1964); the Special Committee on the Question of Defining Aggression (1971); and the UNCTAD Working Group on a Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States (1973-1974).

Member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations (1977-1981). Chairman of the Drafting Committee (1978); Special Rapporteur on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (1977-1981).


Participated as Associate Representative, Representative, Counsel or Deputy Agent of the United States in various cases before the International Court of Justice (between 1962 and 1980). Member of the Board of Arbitration in British Petroleum Company v. Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company (1982-1985) and arbitrator or president in other international commercial arbitrations (since 1988).

Executive Vice-President and Executive Director of the American Society of International Law (1967-1973). Honorary Vice-President (since 1983). Honorary President (since 1996).

President of the Administrative Tribunal of the International Monetary Fund (since January 1994).

Member of the Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law (1967-1981); Honorary Editor (since 1996). Chairman of the Editorial Advisory Committee, International Legal Materials (1967-1973).

Member of the Institute of International Law; the American Society of International Law; the American Branch of the International Law Association; the American Bar Association; and the Council on Foreign Relations. Honorary Member of the Indian Society of International Law. Member of the International Advisory Committee of the Cambridge University Research Centre in International Law; the Board of Electors of the Whewell Professorship of International Law of Cambridge University; and the Board of Overseers' Committee to Visit the Harvard Law School. Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Telders International Law Moot Court Competition.

Author of The Secretary-General of the United Nations: His Political Powers and Practice, 1952; The Effectiveness of International Decisions, 1971 (as editor); "Aggression, Intervention and Self-Defence in Modern International Law", Recueil des cours, Hague Academy of International Law, 1972; reports to the International Law Commission on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses; International Arbitration: Three Salient Problems (1987); Justice in International Law (1994); and some one hundred articles, notes and book reviews in legal and other publications. Research and drafting assistant to United Nations Secretary-General Trygve Lie in the writing of In the Cause of Peace, 1954.


Judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry


(Member of the Court since 6 February 1991)

Born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17 November 1926.

B.A.; LL.B.; LL.D. (University of London); LL.D. (honoris causa) (University of Colombo).

Advocate, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka (1948-1965). Lecturer and Examiner, Council of Legal Education, Sri Lanka (1951-1956). Commissioner of Assize, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka (1965-1967). Justice of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka (1967-1972). Member, Council of Legal Education, Sri Lanka (1967-1972). Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Colombo (since 1984). Honorary Life Member, Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

Sir Hayden Starke Professor of Law, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia (1972-1991). Emeritus Professor of Law, Monash University (since 1991). Chairman, Commission of Inquiry into International Responsibility for Phosphate Mining on Nauru (1987-1988).

Panellist, Unesco Seminar on Teaching of Human Rights, Canberra (1980); Member, United Nations University Task Force on Human Rights (1982); Vice-Chairman, United Nations Centre against Apartheid/Government of Nigeria Conference on Legal Status of Apartheid Régime, Lagos (1984); Panellist, SCOPE/ENUWAR/UNU (Scientists' Committee on Problems of the Environment/Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War/United Nations University), International Conference on Nuclear Danger, Tokyo (1985); Lecturer, United Nations Human Rights Commission Seminar commemorating 40th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Palais des Nations, Geneva (1988); Editor, United Nations University/United Nations Human Rights Commission's two-volume study on Science, Technology and Human Rights (1988-1990); Co-ordinator, United Nations University/Netherlands Institute of Human Rights Workshop on Science, Technology and Human Rights, Utrecht (1989).

Visiting Professorships and Academic Appointments: University of Tokyo (1978); University of Stellenbosch (1979); University of Papua New Guinea (1981); University of Florida (1984); Lafayette College, Pennsylvania (1985); University of Hong Kong (1989).

Member, Editorial Board: Sri Lankan Journal of International Law; Human Rights Quarterly, Johns Hopkins University; Interdisciplinary Peace Research, La Trobe University; Journal of Ceylon Law; Advisory Board, China Law Reports.

Associate Academician, International Academy of Comparative Law, Paris; Vice-President, International Commission of Jurists, Victoria; Past President, World Federation of Overseas Sri Lankan Organizations; Vice-Patron, United Nations Association of Sri Lanka; Member, Club of Rome (Australia); Commonwealth Lawyers Association; Society of Public Teachers of Law; World Association of Law Professors; Lawasia; World Association on the Philosophy of Law and Legal Philosophy.

Books: The Law of Contracts being a Comparative Study of the Roman-Dutch, English and Customary Laws of Contract in Ceylon (2 vols.), 1965; The Law in Crisis: Bridges of Understanding, 1975; Equality and Freedom: Some Third World Perspectives, 1976; Human Rights in Japan, 1979; Apartheid: The Closing Phases?, 1980; An Invitation to the Law, 1980; The Slumbering Sentinels: Law and Human Rights in the Wake of Technology, 1983; Law: The Threatened Peripheries, 1984; Nuclear Weapons and Scientific Responsibility, 1987 (translated into Japanese); Islamic Jurisprudence: Some International Perspectives, 1988; Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development, ed., 1990; Nauru: Environmental Damage under International Trusteeship, 1992; The Impact of Technology on Human Rights: Global Case-Studies, ed., 1993.

Reports: Report of the Nauru Commission of Inquiry (10 vols.), 1988 (joint author).

Articles in law journals in Asia, Africa, Australasia, Europe and North America.

Published lectures include: "Fundamental Perspectives on Equality and Freedom", World Congress on Equality and Freedom, St. Louis, Missouri (1976), an official event marking the American Bicentennial; "National and Transnational Systems as Denigrators of Human Rights", Unesco Seminar on Teaching of Human Rights, Canberra (1981); "The Right to Development", Lawasia Seminar on Establishment of a Regional Human Rights Framework for the Pacific, Suva (1985); "Cultural and Ideological Pluralism in Contemporary Public International Law", World Congress of International Academy of Comparative Law, Sydney and Melbourne (1986); "Traffic in Armaments: A Blind Spot in Human Rights and International Law", Joint Soviet/US International Conference on Nuclear Weapons and International Law, New York (1987); "Emerging Dimensions of Sovereignty in International Law", International Seminar on the Coming Global Civilization, Moscow (1988); "The Teaching of Human Rights", United Nations Seminar commemorating 40th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva (1988); "The Law, Nuclear Weapons and the Real World", First World Convention of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, The Hague (1989); "International Arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules", Regional Seminar on International Arbitration, Kuala Lumpur (1989); "Judicial Reasoning under the Common Law", Commonwealth Law Conference, Auckland (1990); "The Importance of Philosophical Perspectives to the Judicial Process", 6 Connecticut Journal of International Law (1991); "Does International Law Matter?", Inaugural Tun Hussein Onn Memorial Lecture, Kuala Lumpur (1991); "The Right to Know: Freedom of Information as a Human Right", Commonwealth Law Conference, Cyprus (1993); "Introducing Human Rights to the Younger Generation", Unesco, Netherlands (1993); "The Constancy of the Judicial Obligation", Inaugural Fernando Memorial Lecture, Colombo (1994); "The World Court: Its Conception, Constitution and Contribution", Inaugural Governor's Forum, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (1994); 1995 Martin Luther King Lecture, "On Earth as It Is in Heaven: A Vision of World Order for the 21st Century", Tulsa Journal of Comparative and International Law, 1995.

Order of Deshamanya (Sri Lanka); Mohamed Sahabdeen Award for International Understanding in the SAARC Region, 1993.


Judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry

Judge Stephen M. Schwebel

Press communiqué 97/02


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