Washington International Law Journal


In 2002, in response to the United States' refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, vulnerable to submersion due to the rising sea level, threatened to bring a lawsuit against the United States in the International Court of Justice for damages to its island. Outside of various jurisdictional issues that may preempt the suit, Tuvalu's suit will likely have a number of substantive law problems. Tuvalu must show not only that the United States is unlawfully causing the island damage, but also that it has a right to future damages that have yet to occur. Tuvalu might succeed by arguing principles of intergenerational rights and the precautionary principle. However, regardless of its actual likelihood of success, Tuvalu's case presents a unique opportunity to address international environmental law issues that will likely arise in future cases brought by victims of global warming.

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