HISTORY OF ICEL
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.
In 1942 he was arrested and sent to the Dachau concentration camp in solitary confinement for supporting concentration camp inmates and procuring weapons for the underground. He remained for 37 months a prisoner in Dachau and other camps. On April 27, 1945, he fled to his parents’ home in Upper Bavaria. Subsequently, he was released by the US troops in Bad Reichenhall and rendered auxiliary service at the forestry office in Bischofswiesen.
In 1945 he began studying forestry science in Munich /Bavaria and worked until 1948 as a freelance consultant. 1948 until his resignation in 1949 he was the speaker of the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry. In the same year he became a co-worker in the Bavarian agriculture publishing house and advised members and committees of the Bavarian state parliament.
In addition to his professional career, he studied from 1950 to 1953 at the College of Politics in Munich. In 1949 he co-founded the Schutzgemeinschaft Deutsches Wild (Association to Protect German Wildlife). He was member of its board for decades.
In 1952 he and other environmentalists founded the International Alpine Commission (CIPRA). In the same year he was involved in the preparatory work for the establishment of the Interparliamentary Union. Since 1953 he acted as its managing director.
On April 29, 1961, he was one of the signatories of the “Morges Manifesto”, the charter of the WWF. In 1968 he was commissioned by Elisabeth Haub with the founding of the Karl Schmitz Scholl Fund (KSSF). He was Deputy Chairman of the Board.
In 1969 he co-founded the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) in New Delhi. Since the beginning he has been re-elected every two years as one of the two Executive Governors. He was Co-Executive Governor of ICEL until his death in 2017.
Burhenne was involved in the negotiation of numerous international environmental agreements, such as the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) or the Bonn Convention on the Protection of Migratory Species (CMS).
HONORS AND ADWARDS
Federal Cross of Merit of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1973)
Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1978)
Honorary doctorate from Barkatullah University, India (1983)
Elizabeth Haub Prize for Environmental Law (1975)
Honorary doctorate from Pace University New York (1987)
Environmental Medal of the “Better World Society” New York (1990)
Honorary Membership of the IUCN (1990)
Environmental Award of the United Nations (1991)
Great Cross of Merit with Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2004)
Alpine Prize, for his life’s work in the service of global nature and environmental protection (2011)
IUCN – Jefferson Coolidge Memorial Medal (2012)
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.