The the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’s public hearings concerning international obligations to mitigate marine pollution started Monday in Hamburg, Germany following a request from the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS). Prime Ministers Kausea Natano of Tuvalu and Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, representing COSIS, are set to give evidence in front of the Tribunal.COSIS filed a Request for Advisory Opinion on December 12, 2022, seeking to clarify the specific obligations of state parties under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) with respect to:preventing, reducing and controlling pollution of the marine environment in relation to the deleterious effects that result or are likely to result from climate change, including through ocean warming and sea level rise, and ocean acidification, which are caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere; and
protecting and preserving the marine environment in relation to climate change impacts, including ocean warming and sea level rise, and ocean acidification.35 parties, including Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, China, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, European Union, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Italy, Latvia, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mozambique, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Vietnam, and 3 intergovernmental organizations, including the African Union, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and the Pacific Community, will attend the hearing. Other stakeholders such as the United Nations have also filed written submission with the Tribunal.COSIS was established on October 31, 2021, in accordance with the Agreement for the Establishment of the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, with Antigua and Barbuda and Tuvalu as its two original signatories. Prime Ministers Natano and Browne are currently the co-chairs of the COSIS. Other members include Niue, Palau, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Vanuatu.Island nations are facing threatening circumstances with respect to food, energy and infrastructure from sea-level rise and climate change. If proper action is not taken, Tuvalu will have 95% of its land flooded by 2100. Notably, The United Nations also requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in March on state obligations relating to climate change. In June, the ICJ authorized COSIS to participate in the court’s proceedings.

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