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Law of the Sea Tribunal delivers decision on Climate Change case

The ITLOS decision and the upcoming ICJ case on climate change will be discussed at the
May 30 Basel Regional Forum on Peace, Climate Protection and the UN Summit of the Future

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) today delivered a landmark opinion on climate change in response to a request from the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law.

The Tribunal determined that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) requires the 169 nations that are party to it to take specific, concrete steps to prevent, reduce, and control pollution of the marine environment by greenhouse gas emissions, and that these steps must be guided by current scientific evidence, due diligence and an ecosystem approach. (See ITLOS Press Release May 21 for a summary of the decision). 

This is the first time that an international court has ruled directly on countries’ international legal obligations to mitigate climate change. It advances the obligations of States with respect to climate change considerably further than what is required under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

"The ITLOS opinion will inform our future legal and diplomatic work in putting an end to inaction that has brought us to the brink of an irreversible disaster," said Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

"To those that would hide behind the weaknesses of international climate treaties, this opinion makes clear that compliance with the Paris Agreement alone is not enough." says Nikki Reisch, Director of the Centre for International Environmental Law.

 

“This Advisory Opinion is an incredible step forward to achieve climate justice as it acknowledges that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a form of pollution. Moreover, the Tribunal notes that the best available science should inform the content of all necessary measures created to prevent, reduce and control said emissions. States must look beyond the Paris Agreement as the Tribunal does not consider it enough to reach the obligations set out by UNCLOS."

Samira Ben Ali, Engagement Coordinator at World’s Youth for Climate Justice.
Speaker at the upcoming (May 30) Basel Regional Forum on Peace, Climate Change and the UN Summit of the Future

 The ITLOS decision is limited to obligations under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, it paves the way for a further strengthening of international legal obligations with respect to climate change through upcoming cases in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 


The ITLOS decision and the upcoming ICJ case will be discussed at the Basel Regional Forum on Peace, Climate Protection and the UN Summit of the Future on May 30. Samira Ben Ali, Engagement Coordinator at World’s Youth for Climate Justice, is one of the speakers at the Forum.

 

Armed conflicts and climate change are causing devastating impact on civilians and the environment and are threatening the health, well-being and even the survival of future generations. The United Nations - through it's Human Rights Council, International Court of Justice and the upcoming Summit of the Future - is providing important opportunities to build accountability and cooperation for peace and climate protection. 

Join us in Basel, Switzerland on May 30 for the Basel Regional Forum on Peace, Climate Protection and the UN Summit of the Future

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