The Philippine Embassy in The Hague will be recognizing three Filipino judges and legal luminaries for their invaluable contribution to the international legal system — former Chief Justice Cesar C. Bengzon, Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, and Judge Raul C. Pangalangan — in a ceremony to be held today, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, at the Laan Copes van Cattenbury in The Hague, Netherlands. The event will be headlined by the inauguration of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Cesar Bengzon Hall, a sitting hall at the ICJ’s chancery. This is in honor of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Bengzon’s achievement as the first and so far, the only Filipino Judge of the ICJ (from 1967 to 1976). The ICJ has its seat in The Hague.
In an announcement by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippine Ambassador to The Netherlands J. Eduardo Malaya said: “The Philippines has made significant contributions to the progressive development of international law in at least four areas: (1) the drafting of the United Nations Charter and, in particular, on the chapter on international trusteeship for non-self-governing territories; (2) the articulation of key principles of the peaceful settlement of disputes as embodied in the Manila Declaration of 1982; (3) the development of the archipelagic doctrine of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and recently on clarifying key UNCLOS provisions on maritime entitlement and jurisdiction, and (4) the distinguished service of eminent Filipino jurists in international tribunals.” The Ambassador also added that Filipinos “should take pride that we are not only receivers of international law, but actually shapers of it.”
One of the three honorees, Justice Feliciano was a Partner of SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan (then named SyCip Salazar Feliciano & Hernandez), and its Managing Partner from 1983 to 1986. He then left the firm to serve as an Associate Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court, becoming Senior Associate Justice in 1994. In 1995, he became a founding Member of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, and served as its Chairman from 2000 to 2001. Justice Feliciano was also Vice Chairman of the Academic Council of the Institute of International Business Law and Practice of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris. Justice Feliciano returned to SyCipLaw in 2003 and served as Senior Counsel until his passing in 2015.
In an essay on Justice Feliciano, Prof. W. Michael Reisman (a Yale professor and former editor of the American Journal of International Law) described him as “a towering scholar in international law [who] has written authoritatively in virtually every area of international law and legal theory, from the law of the sea and, especially, the problems of archipelagos, to human rights law, where his work on refugees and coerced movements of peoples is remarkable for its insights, to environmental law, international economic law, and the law of war, in which his magisterial work with Myres S. McDougal continues to be the essential [regular reference on the subject] for practitioners and students.”
The Philippine Embassy event is being held in collaboration with the Philippine Society of International Law. The event will be streamed live at 10 pm Philippine time (4 pm CET), July 19, via the Facebook page of the Philippine Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands.