ICEL was created in 1969 in New Delhi by Wolfgang Burhenne, Germany, and Nagendra Singh, President of the International Court of Justice, following the call of the IUCN General Assembly at its meeting in India in 1969, with the initial Governors being Wolfgang Burhenne (Germany), Homer Angelo (USA), Cyrille de Klemme (France), Nagendra Singh (India), Baba Dioum (Senegal) and Charles van der Elst (Belgium).

At its fiftieth anniversary, ICEL is facing a transformation to adapt to today’s social and environmental challenges, building upon the extraordinary work of those that contributed to the outstanding achievements of ICEL since its origins until today: Wolfgang Burhenne, his wife Francoise Burhenne-Guilmin, the owners of the Tengelmann group, in particular Elisabeth Haub, Helga and Erivan Haub, their children and many ICEL volunteers as well as members of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) and of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre (IUCN ELC).

Additionally, to know more about ICEL consult Barbara J. Launsche´s book, Weaving a “Web of Environmental Law: Contributions of the IUCN Environmental Law Programme and the International Council of Environmental Law” from 2008.


In Memoriam of Wolfgang Burhenne

Wolfgang Ewald Burhenne (born April 27, 1924 in Hannover / LowerSaxony, † January 6, 2017 in Oelinghoven / North Rhine Westphalia) was a well-known German environmentalist and a well-known expert in the field of international environmental policy and law – with a worldwide reputation. Starting already in the early 50s he initiated a number of international environmental conventions – together with his wife Francoise Burhenne-Guilmin, who was for a number of years head of the Environmental Law Centre of the IUCN.


After attending elementary school and high school in Bavaria, Wolfgang Burhenne was drafted in 1941 to the Wehrmacht. He was a soldier until he was wounded in Russia, which was followed by a longer hospital stay.


On 15th November 2019 took place the ICEL 50th ANNIVERSARY DINNER in Madrid, Spain. The event was in Memoriam for founders Wolfgang Burhenne and Nagendra Singh, and for the extraordinary service of past member.

Elisabeth Haub Award in Environmental Law

The Award, which is granted annually since 1974 by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, New York, recognizes exceptional accomplishments in the field of environmental law and diplomacy and is the most prestigious award of its kind.

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