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Small island states bid for climate justice in court

By RTCC staff

The International Court of Justice should take action against states unwilling to combat the causes of climate change, according to the President of the Pacific island of Palau.

Island countries such as the Maldives will be some of the first to be impacted from climate change, particularly sea-level rises. (source: Sarah Ackerman/creative commons)

President Johnson Toribiong was speaking at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, after meeting the Prime Minister of Grenada to discuss his proposals.

The Palau President wants the International Court of Justice to force states to take action to cut their carbon emissions – a plan he first announced to the General Assembly in September 2011.

“While we continue to negotiate, we should renew our faith in a system of law that has guided States’ actions in the past and gives them legitimacy today,” he said.

“The rule of law must reflect the interests of the entire international community – for us, it’s about survival.”

The proposal would see the International Court of Justice provide an advisory opinion on damages from climate change, a move the President insists would complement the UNFCCC’s efforts to build a binding treaty through negotiation.

Palau’s Permanent Representative to the UN Stuart Beck says roads are unusable and staple crops have been threatened in Palau and other Pacific nations because of the rising sea waters.

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