Sir Elihu Lauter­pacht

In­ter­na­tional lawyer who helped draft the 1994 peace treaty be­tween Jor­dan and Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - Sir Elihu Lauter­pacht: born July 28, 1928, Died Fe­bru­ary 8, 2017

ONE OF the most dis­tin­guished le­gal schol­ars of his gen­er­a­tion, Sir Elihu Lauter­pacht, who has died aged 88, was noted for cham­pi­oning em­ploy­ees’ rights against the might of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness con­glom­er­ates.

He fought for work­ers’ rights dur­ing his time as a mem­ber of the ad­min­is­tra­tive tri­bunal of the World Bank be­tween 1980 and 1998. In 1993, he played a de­ci­sive part in the geno­cidere­lated prose­cu­tion of Ser­bia be­fore the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice.

As an ad hoc judge ap­pointed by Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina he con­sis­tently ruled in favour of the rights of in­di­vid­u­als against the ap­par­ently over­rid­ing pri­or­i­ties of a sov­er­eign state. Two years later, as an ad­vo­cate, he ar­gued the case for New Zealand in its chal­lenge to French nu­clear test­ing in the South Pa­cific: this case re­sulted in the ICJ’s recog­ni­tion that the pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment was part-and-par­cel of in­ter­na­tional law.

Born in Crick­le­wood,north-west Lon­don,Lauter­pacht was the only child of Pales­tinian pi­anist Rachel Stein­berg and her hus­band Her­sch Lauter­pacht, a na­tive of Zolkiew (in present-day Ukraine) who, in 1937 had been ap­pointed Whewell Pro­fes­sor of In­ter­na­tional Law at Cam­bridge and in 1955, the British rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice. The young Elihu was thus brought up in a home suf­fused with the the­ory and prac­tice of in­ter­na­tional law. In 1941, he was evacuated to the USA. On his re­turn to England, he at­tended Har­row School and then Trin­ity Col­lege, Cam­bridge, ini­tially to study his­tory but then switch­ing to law. In 1949, he grad­u­ated with a First in the Law Tri­pos, and fol­lowed this with a First in the LLB. But whereas the dis­tin­guished fa­ther had spe­cialised in the the­o­ret­i­cal as­pects of in­ter­na­tional le­gal sys­tems, the son — per­haps mind­ful of the fact that al­most all his pa­ter­nal fam­ily had been mur­dered in the Holo­caust — in­clined to­wards their prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion.

In 1953, Lauter­pacht was elected to a fel­low­ship at Trin­ity Col­lege, which re­mained his aca­demic home for the rest of his life. In 1960, he com­menced edit­ing the In­ter­na­tional Law Re­ports, which re­main a ba­sic work of ref­er­ence in this field. In 1983, he es­tab­lished (ini­tially in his study) what sub­se­quently be­came the Lauter­pacht Centre for In­ter­na­tional Law. He be­came an honorary pro­fes­sor in Cam­bridge’s law fac­ulty in 1994. As well as teach­ing, he wrote ex­ten­sively on the ad­min­is­tra­tion of in­ter­na­tional jus­tice, pub­lished a multi-vol­ume edi­tion of his fa­ther’s col­lected pa­pers and, in 2010, a well­re­ceived bi­og­ra­phy of his fa­ther.

But it was the prac­ti­cal — and pro­gres­sive — ap­pli­ca­tion of in­ter­na­tional law that re­mained his abid­ing pas­sion. Called to the bar at Gray’s Inn in 1950, he helped draft the UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 peace treaty be­tween Jor­dan and Is­rael. He played a ma­jor role in the peace­ful set­tle­ment of a land dis­pute be­tween Is­rael and Egypt and — in 1996 — in the Con­ser­va­tive govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­ject an ap­pli­ca­tion to con­struct a nu­clear waste de­pos­i­tory in ru­ral Cum­bria.

Through­out his life, Lauter­pacht re­tained a warm af­fec­tion for the state of Is­rael (whose Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence his fa­ther had helped draft). He was the first cousin of Aura Her­zog, widow of Is­rael’s sixth pres­i­dent, Chaim Her­zog. From 1972 un­til 1975, Lauter­pacht served as Con­sul­tant on In­ter­na­tional Law on the UK Cen­tral Pol­icy Re­view staff, and be­tween 1975 and 1978 acted as Le­gal Ad­viser to the Aus­tralian Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs. Ap­pointed a QC in 1970, he was awarded a CBE in 1989 and was knighted in 1998.

His first wife, Judith Het­tinger, died in 1970. He sub­se­quently mar­ried Cather­ine Daly. She sur­vives him, as do their son, the three chil­dren of his first mar­riage, and seven grand­chil­dren. GE­OF­FREY AL­DER­MAN

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