Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu to seek Justice for Climate Change damage before International Courts


The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda – current Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) – and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu today signed an historic accord that opens the way for ground-breaking litigation before international courts.  This offers a novel legal path to address the severe damage to Small Island States caused by climate change. 


The Agreement establishes a Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, creating a body for the development and implementation of fair and just global environmental norms and practices.  The Commission is also authorized to request advisory opinions from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the legal responsibility of States for carbon emissions, marine pollution, and rising sea levels.  


Membership in the Commission is open to all Small Island States whose leaders have long complained about the absence of effective mechanisms for States most responsible for climate change to compensate for the resulting loss and damage. 


At the signing ceremony in Edinburgh, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, explained that: “Small Island States’ emission of greenhouse gases is negligible, but they bear the overwhelming burden of its catastrophic effects, including persistent destruction, repeated costs of rebuilding and huge debts to finance resilience.  This injustice must end.    We insist that those States most responsible for this dire situation respect their legal obligations to stop global warming and to provide compensation to its victims.  The time for empty promises is over.”  Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, stressed that: “For us, climate justice is a matter of survival.  Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, the decline of marine resources – these threaten our very existence.  We see better than anyone else what is being done to our beautiful planet.  It is time to put words into action, to save Small Island States, and to save the world from impending disaster.” 


The legal counsel to the Commission, Professor Payam Akhavan of Massey College, University of Toronto, and Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, said that: “Small Island States are the canary in the coalmine of climate catastrophe.  Their fate is a warning to all humankind that the disastrous consequences of global warming are happening now, not in a distant future.  The fundamental principle of international law not to cause harm to others has now taken on an unprecedented dimension.  This historic initiative to pursue climate justice should be welcome by all who care about the future of our planet.” 

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  1. Mr PM I know you try everything on the books to get money but why your not helping your people to improve their standards of living improve salaries access to funds without hidden red tapes and stop stealing people ideas.

  2. This is a great initiative, but it’s rather hypocritical of PM Browne to say, “ Small Island States’ emission of greenhouse gases is negligible”…so its ok for us to pollute the atmosphere because we’re smaller than the big countries??!! Plus, look at what’s happening here with all this talk of sand mining, careless destruction of our mangroves (YIDA in particular), lack of recycling centers, etc, etc. Antigua isn’t exactly a pillar of the climate conscious community. Antigua should be leading by example! Go green!

  3. Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock! “The consciousness of self is not the closing of a door to communication. Philosophic thought teaches us, on the contrary, that it is it’s guarantee. National consciousness, which is not nationalism, is the only thing that will give us an international dimension.” – Dr. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth!

    Let us pray that the many derogatory comments on this article were not sent from Residents or Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda on the eve of its 40th Independence!

    Clearly, the Ecclesiastics have been remiss in providing teachable moments on the significance of the Biblical 40 years in the Wilderness!

    AOSIS is an intergovernmental grouping of 39 low lying coastal and small island countries! 37 are Independent Nations! Did the Hon Gaston Browne, PM of Antigua and Barbuda elect himself Chair of the organization! Why be disparaging! “For the beloved should not allow me to turn my infantile fantasies into reality: on the contrary, he should help me to go beyond them.” – Fanon!

    The beginning of Mr. Bowen’s Independence Comments from the Good Book are words that have a charge! “When I was a child, I was speaking as a child, I was led ads a child, I was thinking as a child, but when I became a man, I ceased these childish things.’ – From the Aramaic Text, 1 Cor. 13-11! Maybe just maybe both Government and all Opposition Politicos will turn over a new leaf and display a more congenial and collaborative behavioural pattern!

    It will be most fitting to end with the immortal words of VC as Independence brought the Nation into being! “My people, we are free this night. But freedom cannot exist without responsibility. The full burden of our freedom now rests squarely upon our shoulders. What we do with that freedom is our responsibility, we can blame no other.”

  4. Good to see you “Frenchy” are quoting the late VC Bird.
    We can blame others. Those whom we elected to serve our needs. Then they would turn away from us who voted them into Public Offices in favor of Asians. What is considered to be freedom? Having your feet on the necks of the people, stifling free speech,taking away our personal responsibilities.

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