SIDS at Oceans Court
Sept. 13, 2023
A group of small island nations disproportionately affected by the climate crisis have appealed to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which will consider whether carbon emissions absorbed by the ocean should be considered marine pollution, and what obligations nations have to protect the marine environment.
Prime Ministers Kausea Natano of Tuvalu and Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda appeared at the court in Germany on Monday, where they sought an advisory opinion on whether greenhouse gas emissions absorbed by the marine environment should be considered pollution.
If the case, brought by the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, is successful, these existing obligations legal obligations to reduce marine pollution would include carbon-emission reduction and protection of marine environments already damaged by CO2 pollution.
For the tribunal, this will be a test case: The Oceans Court, as it is also called, has ruled on issues like fisheries, rights of passage, and seabed mining and pollution, but it has never heard a case on greenhouse gases and their impact on climate change and the oceans.
Such an opinion could lead to wide-ranging claims for damages.
In addition to the small island states, countries including Germany, France, Saudi Arabia and Australia will speak at hearing sessions scheduled until September 25.
Reparations and Decolonisation
Caribbean activists have put reparations firmly on the global radar. “Some estimates of the true economic and moral damage from slavery in the Caribbean run into the trillions of dollars. While most observers doubt that reparations amounts will ever come close to that, there is still optimism that reparations could provide meaningful financial resources for the region, perhaps involving numbers in the billions—in part because the conversation has picked up steam in the last few years,” reports Americas Quarterly.
Climate and Environmental Justice
CARICOM Chairman Roosevelt Skerrit emphasized that Caribbean nations are no longer willing to accept mere promises and discussions about climate finance. They are determined to take concrete action at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai. (Climate Tracker).
Derval Barzey interviews Dr. Adam Redhead, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Program Director of Sustainable Agriculture at Andre College in the new season of Climate Conscious. Redhead advocates for an accelerated transition to sustainable agriculture systems in the Caribbean region through regional collaboration and knowledge sharing.
“We are small islands facing an enormous crisis. The GST Synthesis Report delivers another devastating blow. The report confirms that the world is woefully behind on climate action to peak emissions and limit our world’s warming to 1.5°C – and our small island developing states will continue to pay the price for bigger countries inertia”, expressed Ambassador Dr. Pa'olelei Luteru, AOSIS Chair.
The "The Tide Is Rising" event in Trinidad, organized by the Institute for Small Islands, focused on using Ecocide Law to protect the ocean and Caribbean islands. The event received support from the Pacific Island of Vanuatu, which is also engaged in efforts against deep-sea mining through the International Seabed Authority. (Petchary’s Blog)
The women’s rights group Red Thread is protesting against the lack of ring-fencing provisions and the absence of full liability coverage in Guyana's 2016 Production Sharing Agreement with Exxon Mobil, reports Kaieteur News.
Mayreau Island in St. Vincent & the Grenadines is grappling with severe food insecurity, with 95-98% of its food imported, resulting in rising prices and limited access to fresh, healthy options due to various factors like climate change and extended droughts. The World Bank has provided USD 10 million to address this issue as part of the 2023 Food Insecurity Project, which aims to mitigate the negative impacts on agriculture and fisheries in the country. (Global Voices)
The United Nations General Assembly has published a report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Africans and of People of African Descent against Excessive Use of Force and Other Human Rights Violations by Law enforcement officers through transformative change for racial justice and equality.
The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Guyana has launched the "Guyana Together" campaign to increase tolerance, respect, and acceptance of LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) individuals and to advocate for the repeal of laws criminalizing same-sex intimacy. (News Room Guyana)
Haitians strongly favor the deployment of an international force to help the country’s police fight criminal gangs. But they also believed that the Armed Forces of Haiti can help, according to two polls conducted within months of each other by a business alliance group, reports the Miami Herald. It is an option the U.S. is “statutorily prohibited” from assisting, however.
Germán Rivera, a former Colombian soldier charged in the 2021 assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, pleaded guilty to three charges last week in a U.S. court. A fourth charge was dropped as part of a plea deal, reports the Financial Times. The move could be a major breakthrough for the case in the U.S., according to the New York Times.
The Caribbean and The World
St. Vincent's Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves expressed CARICOM's disappointment with the Prime Minister of Haiti for not taking action to broaden the governing coalition and failing to implement agreed-upon decisions made at the summit in Trinidad and Tobago. (St. Vincent Times)
“Autonomous weapons are weapon systems that can identify, target, and eliminate a persona, a group of persons, or an area without human intervention”, explains Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda´s ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States in an article for Caribbean News Service. “Action to ban them should be seriously considered now”, he concludes.
Dominican President Luis Abinader announced a freeze on new visas for Haitians and threatened to close the border between the two countries in the midst of tensions over a canal affecting the Massacre River. (Al Jazeera)
The St Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament has amended its citizenship law to allow "second-generation Vincentians" born overseas to be considered for citizenship, according to Loop. The new law passed with bipartisan support, extends citizenship eligibility to grandchildren of individuals born in St Vincent and the Grenadines if the grandchild is born outside of the island. (Via Americas Migration Brief)
“Only just over 100 Venezuelan students” have been deemed eligible to take part in the Trinidad school system so far after a recent move to expand access; about 1,000 of those not included have resorted to a virtual educational system, out of a total estimated population of 6,700 immigrant children, reports Newsday. (Via Americas Migration Brief)
Belize’s amnesty regularization program “initially targeted some forty thousand persons, but only an estimated twelve thousand had signed up at its closing,” reports LoveFM, noting that the program is still viewed as a model. (Via Americas Migration Brief)
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Germany, an international conference on the Carnival tradition, “Rethinking Carnival from the Pre-modern to the Present,” will take place at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt in October. (Repeating Islands)
Multilingual U.S. rapper Cardi B, who is of Trinidadian and Dominican heritage, speaks “to the contentions that often emerge from being Black in America — but as an immigrant whose Caribbean roots are often not tied to just one nation state,” argues Patriann Smith in Global Voices.
13 Sept, Transforming Guyana, Season II Episode IV: Infrastructure Development and the Emerging Guyanese Oil and Gas Economy — The Guyana Business Journal Magazine and Caribbean Policy Consortium. Register.
14 Sept — Meeting with Caribbean Civil Society and Elected Representatives of the Public to the Escazú Agreement via Zoom. Register
Climate Analytics Caribbean in partnership with Independent Global Stocktake is awarding a grant of US$2000 to support the work of an exceptional youth-led project aimed at responding or building resilience to the impacts of climate change in the Caribbean. To participate share a short video tagging Climate Analytics Caribbean with hashtag #IslandsAllInGST before September 29th.
The Caribbean Climate Investment Program, under the USAID Climate Finance for Development Accelerator, is extending the deadline for submitting concept notes for clean energy and climate adaptation projects until March 2024.
Caribbean Vulnerable Communities is looking for a consultant with expertise in climate justice to assist us to co-create, shape, and strengthen CVC’s climate justice work and materials over a 6-months period beginning in October 2023.