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Antigua and Barbuda Takes Center Stage in Global Climate Action with Landmark ICJ Submissions

Antigua and Barbuda Takes Center Stage in Global Climate Action with Landmark ICJ Submissions

The Hague, NETHERLANDS (DT) — Antigua and Barbuda, a resilient small island nation in the Caribbean, has catapulted onto the global stage in its pursuit of climate justice. Today, the country made history by submitting written arguments to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking an Advisory Opinion on the Obligations of States in respect of Climate Change.
This pivotal move signals the first step in a legal process aimed at obtaining a clear framework of obligations for nations amidst the escalating climate crisis.

Navigating legal strategies during a climate crisis

Antigua and Barbuda sees this Advisory Opinion as an opportunity for the ICJ to delineate the imperative for States to elevate their climate ambitions and intensify efforts in critical areas of mitigation, adaptation, finance, and technical support.

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Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, lauded the advocacy efforts of small island developing states like Vanuatu and Tuvalu, emphasizing their pivotal role in championing this cause and notes that “there needs to be fair and equitable treatment of nations disproportionately impacted by climate change despite minimal contributions to its genesis. This is the essence of climate justice.”

Worldwide backing for climate activism

Ambassador Boris Latour of Antigua and Barbuda emphasized the existential threat facing small island states, remarking, “Without urgent climate action, most, if not all, island states will disappear. This historic submission underscores our nation’s steadfast commitment to safeguarding our planet for future generations and reaffirms our dedication to multilateralism and the rule of law.”

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Ambassador Boris Latour of Antigua and Barbuda addresses the press after a meeting at the ICJ. Photo : Embassy of Antigua and Barbuda to France

He emphasized the critical need to utilize every available avenue to address this crisis with urgency. This landmark submission not only highlights the urgency of climate action but also signifies a historic moment for Antigua and Barbuda and many other developing nations participating in ICJ proceedings for the first time.

Existential peril faced by small island nations

The gravity of the climate crisis reverberates globally, transcending geographical boundaries and necessitating collective action. The outcomes of this legal process will shape international efforts to combat climate change, ensuring equitable treatment for nations disproportionately impacted by its effects.

Antigua and Barbuda acknowledges the legal expertise provided by Sidley Austin LLP, enabling its participation in these proceedings. Additionally, the state is represented within the Commission of Small Island States (COSIS), amplifying its voice on the international stage.

While initiated by Vanuatu and adopted by the UN General Assembly on March 29, 2023, the pursuit of an Advisory Opinion on climate obligations underscores a shared global responsibility.

The submissions from diverse nations underscore the universal significance of climate justice and the imperative for concerted action. With the guidance of H.E. Boris Latour, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the UNOG and UNOV, the delegation from Antigua and Barbuda include:

H.E. Colin Murdoch, Ambassador and Permanent Observer of OECS to the UNOG Mr. Zachary Phillips, Agent to ICJ for Antigua and Barbuda in the Advisory Opinion proceedings, Mr. Timothée Bauer, Deputy Permanent Representative in the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to UNOG and UNOV, Mr. Joel Richards, Counsellor in the OECS Permanent Mission to the UNOG.

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