Skip to main content

Rozemarijn Roland-Holst, Durham Law School

This is the image alt text

DEI Events Logo

Rozemarijn Roland-Holst, Durham Law School

Small Island States are leading the way in using international law beyond the climate change regime to address a fundamental inequity. Having contributed negligible amounts to the causes of anthropogenic climate change, they and their peoples are suffering the most acute and costly impacts of sea level rise, ocean warming, and increasingly extreme and devastating weather events.

In December 2022, the Commission of Small Island States (COSIS), which was established on the side lines of COP26 in Glasgow, submitted a ground-breaking request for an Advisory Opinion to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). It requests the Tribunal to clarify states’ existing obligations under the law of the sea to protect the marine environment in light of climate change. At the two-week long hearings in September 2023, the Tribunal heard statements from 32 States and 4 international organisations. Parallel requests for Advisory Opinions on climate change are currently pending before the International Court of Justice, initiated by Vanuatu, and before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. ITLOS will be the first to speak on the matter, as its Advisory Opinion is expected in spring 2024.

This presentation will take stock of the significance and potential of these developments, in particular the role played by Small Island States. It will reflect on key points of convergence and divergence that have emerged in the positions of states, and on the role of climate science in these proceedings. Finally, it will look forward to what is next in this year of unprecedented legal action outside the climate change negotiations, and what the practical impacts and implications may be.

Dr Rozemarijn Roland Holst is Assistant Professor in International Environmental Law at Durham Law School. Her research is situated at the intersection of international law of the sea, environmental law, and climate change law. She advises on various aspects of the law of the sea and the ocean-climate nexus, including as legal counsel to the Commission of Small Island States in their request for an Advisory Opinion on climate change from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. She also works on legal and justice aspects of the energy transition at sea, and serves as appointed member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the cross-sectoral consultative body on Dutch North Sea policy.

To register for any of our events, please visit our EventBrite page.