Climate Litigation in International Organs and Courts: The Torres Strait Islanders case
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In a landmark decision issued on 22 September 2022, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Australia’s failure to adequately protect indigenous Torres Strait Islanders against adverse impacts of climate change was a breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This was the first legal action brought by climate-vulnerable inhabitants of low-lying islands against a Sovereign state and the first international case on climate change to be decided on the merits. The decision has set several ground-breaking precedents for international human rights law and climate justice. This decision has set a number of important precedents which confirm the justiciability of climate change adverse impacts before international human rights organs. This session explores the key features of the case and assesses its significance.
Monica Feria-Tinta is a barrister at Twenty Essex, a public international law specialist acting in international courts and tribunals as well as in English Courts. Her practice in public international law is substantial and covers the full spectrum in the field. She has developed particular specialism in climate change litigation having advised Sovereign States on the feasibility of an Advisory Opinion on climate change before the ICJ and ITLOS. She was counsel in the first international climate change case brought by inhabitants of low-lying islands before the UN Human Rights Committee, the Torres Strait Islanders case, a ground-breaking case, recently decided by the Committee. In recent years she has been active in cases raising sea-level rise issues, sinking islands, environmental degradation, oil spills, transboundary harm, climate change as a human right issue, environmental harm of waterways, protection of rivers, biodiversity, phasing-out coal mining cases and the enforcement of the Paris Agreement before a variety of international organs. Her experience includes advising a State Party representative of a Least Developed Country in the drafting of the Rules of Procedure of Compliance with the Paris Agreement. She is a guest lecture at the BCIIL Climate Change litigation course and is a former Visiting Fellow at Jesus College, University of Cambridge. She is a graduate from the LSE and recipient of the Hague Academy Diploma of International Law. Monica was Barrister of the Year finalist at the Lawyers’ Awards 2020.
Public International Law Discussion Group
The Public International Law Discussion Group at the University of Oxford is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford and hosts regular speaker events. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.
PIL Discussion Group Convenor: Natasha Holcroft-Emmess.
The Discussion Group's meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press.
The seminar will commence at 12:45pm UK Time and the speaker will present for around 30-40 minutes, with around 30 minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude by 2pm UK Time.
Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome.