HomeLawIsland nations seek reprieve under the Law of the Sea

Island nations seek reprieve under the Law of the Sea

Two island nations will appear at an international court

Two island nations are appearing for justice at an international court. Island nations are facing long-lasting impacts from the sea and rising water levels. The international court will convene in Hamburg, Germany, and discuss how countries can maintain clean waters. 

(Image Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images/File)

Kausea Natano of Tuvalo and Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda will present evidence at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The hearing will determine whether the carbon emissions absorbed by the ocean water count as marine pollution. It will also determine whether other nations are obligated to protect marine ecosystems. 

The tribunal will issue an advisory rather than a final hearing. This hearing is not legally binding but is a roadmap for countries to frame climate control policies. 

Prime Ministers Kausea Natano and Gaston Browne will represent the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS). They will argue that countries must protect the oceans from pollution under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It includes protection from greenhouse gas emissions.

Natano states they are seeking international help as the global community has to help fight the injustice. He believes that international law is necessary for providing justice to his people.

Effects of pollution on Island nations

Oceans help curb climate change by absorbing carbon emissions. Excessive carbon emissions hurt the marine ecosystem. It leads to acidification and coral bleaching. It affects marine biodiversity.

Tuvalu and Vanuatu are low-lying island states. They are at risk of being submerged by rising water levels. It may soon become a reality at the end of this century. 

Islands have also appealed to other courts regarding the duties of other countries. Vanuatu appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an advisory hearing on the global obligations to maintain climate control. The ICJ will issue an opinion in 2024.

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