Last week, an international court issued a major decision that could impact how nations around the world address climate change and protect the ocean.

On May 21, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), also known as “The Oceans Court,” delivered an advisory opinion holding that countries must take all necessary measures to prevent, reduce, and control pollution of the marine environment from greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first time that an international court has ruled directly on countries’ international legal obligations to mitigate climate change. The European Court of Human Rights found similar State obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights in April.

The ITLOS decision is a major victory for the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, COSIS, a coalition of nine nations from the Caribbean and the Pacific. For small island States, climate change is an existential threat. Protecting the world’s oceans, which act as important heat and carbon sinks, is key to maintaining fish stocks, reducing the frequency and intensity of devastating storms, and preserving plants and wildlife.

What exactly did the Tribunal decide? How might this groundbreaking ruling impact future climate policy?

Co-hosting this episode is Just Security’s Managing Editor, Megan Corrarrino, and joining the show to discuss the Tribunal’s decision and its potential impact are Catherine Amirfar and Ambassador Cheryl Bazard.

Catherine is Chair of the Subcommittee on Litigation Management of COSIS’s Committee of Legal Experts and the Co-Chair of the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton’s International Dispute Resolution Group. She is also the Co-Chair of Just Security’s Advisory Board. Ambassador Cheryl Bazard serves as The Bahamas’ Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union. The Bahamas is one of the nine COSIS States that sought the opinion.

Listen to the episode by clicking below.

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