4 Oct 2011

Law of Sea ruling could support Palau's call to UN on climate change

2:34 pm on 4 October 2011

An environmental lawyer says there's support in international law for Palau's position on other states' climate change responsibility.

Palau has called on the United Nations to obtain an urgent opinion from the International Court of Justice over countries' responsibilities for the damage caused by their emissions.

Robert Makgill was involved with an international tribunal looking at seabed mining in the Pacific earlier this year, which made an historic ruling extending an important principle of environmental law to the high seas.

"In the Law of the Sea Tribunal's advisory opinion, they found that one state could cause harm to a lot of states. Upon that reasoning, there's no reason why a lot of states couldn't cause harm to one state."

Robert Makgill says recent international court decisions could also mean states have a duty to adopt appropriate climate change laws to avoid causing environmental harm to other countries.