Born in Vienna in 1925, Peter Weiss has led a double life as an intellectual property lawyer (retired) and a constitutional and human rights lawyer (active). He is currently president of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy, vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, and an advisor to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
Weiss served in the army in World War II, including a stint in a facility for the torture-less interrogation of high-level German prisoners of war. In 1952, he founded the International Development Placement Association, a precursor of the Peace Corps. He practiced intellectual property law as a partner in two trademark firms from 1955 to 2006, and as senior intellectual property counsel for Chanel from 1996 to 2006.
He played major roles in the 1980 case that established the right of foreign victims to sue their torturers in the United States, and in the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice declaring the threat and use of nuclear weapons to be illegal.
Weiss has served as chairman of the board of the Institute for Policy Studies, as president of the American Committee on Africa, and as a trustee of St. John's College. He also has a long-standing interest in trying, against all odds, to bring about a just and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He writes infrequently published op-eds and letters to editors and dabbles in poetry and tennis.