Former RMI Foreign Minister Tony deBrum was nominated last week for the Nobel Peace Prize, considered one of the most prestigious global recognition awards.
DeBrum and the RMI government’s legal team from the US law firm Keller Rohrback were nominated for the prize by Norway-based Colin Archer, Secretary General of the International Peace Bureau. The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards bestowed in six categories by Swedish and Norwegian committees in recognition of academic, cultural and scientific advances.
In his letter to the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Archer called deBrum’s action in filing lawsuits against the world’s nine nuclear powers a “courageous step.” “Under deBrum’s leadership, the (RMI) sued the states for failing to comply with their obligations under international law seeking the elimination of nuclear weapons,” he said.
The Nobel nomination comes just as the new government in the Marshall Islands headed by President Dr. Hilda Heine takes office. The coalition supporting her ascendance to head of state includes members of the former opposition who called the nuclear lawsuits “illegal” and indicated they wanted to dismiss them if they were voted into government.
New Foreign Minister John Silk was quoted in the August 7, 2015 edition of the Journal, as saying the lawsuits against not only the US but other nations that were filed in the International Court of Justice in 2014 are illegal because the Marshall Islands Constitution requires that Nitijela endorse any international treaty to which the RMI becomes a party.
Silk, who was sworn in Monday, said this week he could not comment yet on the lawsuits. “The lawsuits will have to be reviewed by Cabinet,” he said, adding that there were other more urgent concerns facing the Cabinet, including the El Niño-caused drought. “There are other pressing issues, but we have to discuss the lawsuits,” he said.
The nomination of deBrum and the RMI legal team also comes just weeks before key hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague will decide if the nuclear lawsuits can move ahead against England, India and Pakistan.
Read more about this in the February 5, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.