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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 09:03 GMT
UN court goes green
Jean Michel Cousteau diving at coral reef near Fiji
The Cousteau Society will help with fact-finding missions
By Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague

The rights of victims of environmental disasters worldwide are to be formally recognised by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on Monday.

The court is to sign an agreement with the Cousteau environmental society as a basis for settling international environmental disputes between organisations and individuals.

The Cousteau Society is placing a ship, the Alcyone, at the court's disposal to carry out fact-finding commissions.

Delayed claims

It is the first time a court will give legitimacy to environmental disputes between individuals and organisations in an international context.

Until now there has been no global forum for the victims of environmental disasters to seek damages, such as those in Romania and Hungary who suffered as a result of last year's cyanide spill from an Australian mining company based in northern Romania.

Others have had to wait more than a decade for their claims to be handled, like the relatives of the thousands in Bhopal, India, who died after the chemical spill at the US-owned Union Carbide plant in 1984.

See also:

15 Feb 00 | Europe
Death of a river
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