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  • By Bernadette H. Carreon, Pacific Note

Tony de Brum, climate change leader in Pacific and Nobel Peace Prize nominee dies

International climate change advocate, Tony de Brum age 72 died, in Majuro, Marshall Islands.

Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. sent a letter of condolence to de Brum’s family through Marshall Island President Hilde Heine.

“On behalf of our family, Debbie and I offer our deepest sympathies to Mrs. Rosalee Maddison de Brum and the entire de Brum family. We share their loss of Tony, who was not just a great friend, but a brother, considered a part of our Palau family. The Marshall Islands has lost a son; Palau and the Pacific Family have lost a brother, and the global community, has lost an island champion,” Remengesau said in his letter.

De Brum served as a Marshall Islands Climate Ambassador and was formerly the nation's foreign minister.

De Brum also played a leading role in the negotiation of the Compact of Free Association between the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the United States.

De Brum led the lawsuit filed by Marshall Islands against Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea filed in the International Court of Justice in April 2014, for violation of the nuclear disarmament obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law.

His commitment to global nuclear disarmament won him several accolades including the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation‘s Distinguished Peace Leader Award in 2012 and the Nuclear Free Award from the Right Livelihood Foundation in 2015. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.

The Marshall Islands, once a nuclear test site, went up against the nuclear powers in the hopes that they will be held accountable for nuclear proliferation. The ICJ however dismissed the lawsuit last year.

De Brum was also a fierce advocate of climate change, a champion of the Paris climate agreement where he led the fight for countries agree to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“Tony’s legacy goes beyond our islands and will go beyond those of us that call the Marshall Islands home. He fought for our independence, he fought against the tyranny of nuclear weapons and for nuclear justice for our people,” RMI President Hilda Heine said.

Heine also said the very existence of Paris Climate agreement, “owes a lot to Tony de Brum.”

Remengesau considers de Brum both a personal friend and a friend of Micronesia.

“He will be in our hearts forever and we will continue his legacy of love, passion, and commitment for our islands. The people of Palau send their profound condolences and we stand with you in this difficult time,” Remengesau added in his condolence letter.

Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, CNMI's delegate to Congress, described De Brum as "a true statesman, a powerful voice for his people, and a champion of global climate action and a nuclear-free world."

Sablan said De Brum left behind "a legacy that all Micronesians can be proud of, and a charge, as well, to continue his life’s work for a sustainable and more peaceful planet. My wife Andrea and I join the people of the Mariana Islands in offering our deepest condolences to Mr. De Brum’s family, to the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and to the Marshallese people in their time of sorrow.”


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