ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Three heads of government met virtually on 26 August 2022 to pursue ways by which international law could be utilized to secure compensation for damage caused to small island states by Climate Change.
The heads of government of Antigua and Barbuda, Tuvalu and Palau gathered under the umbrella organization, ‘The Commission of Small Islands States on Climate Change and international law’, which was established last November prior to the opening of the COP-26 meeting in Glasgow.
Reaffirming their determination to pursue climate justice for their countries and other small island states, which are amongst the greatest victims of Climate Change, the co-chairs of the Commission conferred with a group of 14 international lawyers who are highly experienced in matters related to loss and damage, sea-level rise, marine environment, and human rights.
The distinguished group of lawyers (see list in Media Advisory below) reported to the leaders on their research activities and a plan of action that is being developed.
The leaders, prime minister Gaston Browne (Antigua and Barbuda), prime minister Kausea Natano (Tuvalu) and president Surangel Whipps Jr. (Palau), welcomed the report of the expert group of lawyers and approved their recommendations.
The Commission also expressed full support for the separate, parallel initiative of Vanuatu to request an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice.
Noting that other small island states have indicated interest in joining the Commission, the leaders encouraged all affected states to join their effort to address the urgent and fundamental injustice in which they bear a disproportionate and overwhelming burden resulting from climate change.
The leaders also decided to establish three working groups, comprising members of the groups of expert international lawyers and representatives of member governments, to advance the objectives of the Commission.
Members of the COSIS Committee of Legal Experts (in alphabetical order):
- Payam Akhavan (Canada) (Chair)
Professor of International Law; Senior Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto; Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
- Catherine Amirfar (USA)
Co-Chair, International Dispute Resolution & Public International Law Group, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, New York; President, American Society of International Law.
- Alan Boyle (UK)
Emeritus Professor of International law, University of Edinburgh; Barrister, Essex Court Chambers, London.
- Jutta Brunnée (Canada)
Dean, University Professor & James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto; Associate Member of the Institut de droit international.
- Eden Charles (Trinidad and Tobago)
Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority for the Enterprise; Former Chair of the Preparatory Committee of the UN General Assembly on Development of an International Legally Binding Instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction; Former Chairman of the Sixth Committee (Legal) of the UN General Assembly; Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Trinidad and Tobago to the UN; Lecturer, University of West Indies, Faculty of Law.
- David Freestone (UK)
Adjunct Professor and Visiting Scholar, The George Washington University School of Law, Washington D.C.; Co-Rapporteur of the International Law and Sea Level Rise Committee of the International Law Association; Executive Secretary of the Sargasso Sea Commission.
- Vaughan Lowe QC (UK)
Emeritus Chichele Professor of International Law and Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University; Barrister, Essex Court Chambers, London; Member of the Institut de droit international.
- Makane Möise Mbengue (Senegal)
Professor of International Law, University of Geneva and Sciences Po Paris, School of Law; Member of the Curatorium of The Hague Academy of International Law; Associate Member of the Institut de droit international.
- Phoebe Okowa (Kenya)
Professor of Public International Law, Queen Mary, University of London, Faculty of Law; Member of the UN International Law Commission; Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration; Public International Law Advisory Panel, British Institute for International & Comparative Law.
- Nilüfer Oral (Turkey)
Director of the Centre for International Law and Senior Fellow, National University of Singapore; Member of the UN International Law Commission and Co-Chair of the Study Group on Sea-level Rise in Relation to International Law; Member of the Steering Committee, International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Commission on Environmental Law.
- Shaista Shameem (Fiji)
Professor and Vice Chancellor, University of Fiji; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; Former Director and Chairperson of the Fiji Human Rights Commission and Former Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council.
- Jean-Marc Thouvenin (France)
Professor of International Law, University of Paris Nanterre; Secretary-General of The Hague Academy of International Law; Associate Member of the Institut de droit international.
- Philippa Webb (Australia)
Professor of Public International Law, King’s College London; Barrister, Twenty Essex Chambers, London; Public International Law Advisory Panel, British Institute for International & Comparative Law.
- Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh (Netherlands)
Assistant Professor of Public International Law, Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, Leiden University; Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Environmental Law, Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific, Fiji; Attorney, Blue Ocean Law, Guam.