Boigu Island, Torres Strait. : National Indigenous Times , April 4, 2022

In Praise Of King Canute

Michael Kile                                                                                                              

At first glance there would appear to be no connection between an ancient monarch, a small island nine kilometres south of Papua New Guinea and 160 kilometres north of Cape York, and a decision taken at the Palais Wilson in Geneva last month.

As for the monarch, William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) wrote a poem about him.

Might I stay the sun above us, good sir Bishop?” Canute cried;

“Could I bid the silver moon to pause upon her heavenly ride?

If the moon obeys my orders, sure I can command the tide.

“Will the advancing waves obey me, Bishop, if I make the sign?”

Said the Bishop, bowing lowly, “Land and sea, my lord, are thine.”

Canute turned towards the ocean—”Back!” he said, “thou foaming brine.

“From the sacred shore I stand on, I command thee to retreat;

Venture not, thou stormy rebel, to approach thy master’s seat:

Ocean, be thou still!  I bid thee come not nearer to my feet!”

But the sullen ocean answered with a louder, deeper roar,

And the rapid waves drew nearer, falling sounding on the shore;

Back the Keeper and the Bishop, back the king and courtiers bore.

Even King Canute, however, would be challenged today. We live in a world where hubris reigns supreme. Too many folk believe they can control Nature. Some are conjuring serious money out of her variability. Others are shedding tears, obsessed with “saving the planet”. As for modern monarchs, they are more likely to applaud than expose the biggest racket of our time: gaming the climate.

That said, had everyone at the United Nations read Thackeray’s poem, it of course would not have changed the agency’s rampant alarmism. It would not have reduced its determination to use every avenue to push a loss and damage agenda, “unlock capital for climate action” and grow the Green Climate Fund.

Consider the ground-breaking decision by the U.N. Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on September 23, 2022.  It found that:

 Australia’s failure to adequately protect indigenous Torres Islanders against adverse impacts of climate change violated their rights to enjoy their culture and be free from arbitrary interferences with their private life, family and home.

The Committee today issued its Decision after examining a joint complaint filed by eight Australian nationals and six of their children. They are all indigenous inhabitants of Boigu, Poruma, Warraber and Masig, four small, low-lying islands in Australia’s Torres Strait region. The Islanders claimed their rights had been violated as Australia failed to adapt to climate change by, inter alia, upgrading seawalls on the islands and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This decision marks a significant development as the Committee has created a pathway for individuals to assert claims where national systems have failed to take appropriate measures to protect those most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of their human rights. (UNHRC Committee member: Hélène Tigroudja)

The Devil, dear reader, lurks not in “climate change”, but in the detail. The 59-page UNHRC Committee’s Decision is a fascinating document. Here for all to see are the tricks of the trade: the turgid rhetoric, the quasi-legal tone, the dodgy conclusions and circular arguments (circulus in probando): A is true because B is true; B is true because A is true.

The premises of this intriguing case, which began on May 13, 2019, are surely as much in need of investigation as the Committee’s conclusions. For example, is a “safe climate” – whatever that is – really a “matter of fundamental human rights” (para. 3.1, page 3, UNHRC Decision)? Can such a climate somehow be created in reality and protected by a country (State)?

Yet the Committee was emphatic: “The State party’s obligations under international climate change treaties constitute part of the overarching system that is relevant to the examination of its violations under the Covenant” (para. 3.2, page 4).

The UN Commission or Council on Human Rights and Human Rights Committee are separate agencies. The former has 47 so-called Member States. Selection is not based on track record but “equitable geographical distribution”: Africa (13 seats), Asia-Pacific (13 seats), Latin America and Caribbean (8 seats), Western Europe and other States (7 seats), and Eastern Europe (6 seats). Hence the Council currently includes China, Pakistan, Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, Sudan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The Committee’s task: to “monitor States parties’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which to date has been ratified by 173 States parties.” We are told it is “made up of 18 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.”

Yet the Committee seems to have real power: “the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allows individuals to file complaints against the 117 States parties to the Optional Protocol for violations of their rights enshrined in the Covenant. The Optional Protocol imposes on States parties the international legal obligation to comply in good faith with the Committee’s views.”

As Keith Windschuttle reminded readers last month, international law is not decided by parliaments.

Much of it is the prod­uct of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council and other trans­national quasi-judicial and human rights organisations, as well as academic law professors, legal philosophers, interna­tional relations advisers, and judges on international tribunals. Most have been appointed to their positions by like-minded offi­cials and thinkers, that is, it is a self-reproducing network. (Quadrant, September 28, 2022)

The following Committee members examined the “joint complaint”: Tania María Abdo Rocholl, Wafaa Ashraf Moharram Bassim, Yadh Ben Achour, Arif Bulkan, Mahjoub El Haiba, Shuichi Furuya, Carlos Gomez Martinez, Marcia V.J. Kran, Duncan Laki Muhumuza, Photini Pazartzis, Hernan Quezada Cabrera, Vasilka Sancin, José Manuel Santos Pais, Chongrok Soh, Kobaujah Tchamdja Kpatcha, Hélène Tigroudja, Imeru Tamerat Yigezu and Gentian Zyberi. Six Committee members gave Individual opinions: Duncan Laki Muhumuza, Arif Bulkan, Marcia V. J. Kran, Vasilka Sancin, Carlos Gomez Martinez, Hernan Quezada Cabrera and Gentian Zyberi.

Daniel Billy et al., the Torres Strait Islands group described as the “authors” and “alleged victims” – were represented by ClientEarth, a group of “lawyers, scientists and policy experts with unrivalled environmental expertise”. ClientEarth is registered in the UK as an “environmental charity”. It has offices in London, Beijing and the USA.

The so-called “facts as submitted by the authors” and outlined in their Complaint, contain statements so critical of Australia’s policies on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions an impartial observer might conclude it was not necessarily all their own work. For example:

The State party has also failed to mitigate the impact of climate change. In 2017, the State party’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions were the second highest in the world. Those emissions increased by 30.72% between 1990 and 2016. The State party ranked 43rd out of 45 developed countries in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions during that period. Since 1990, the State party has actively pursued policies that have increased emissions by promoting the extraction and use of fossil fuels, in particular thermal coal for electricity generation. (para. 2.8, page 3)

As for the old per capita trick, one relevant fact they might have included: Australia’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions is 1.18%, one of the lowest in the world.  The Decision was also silent on what rights the country’s population of 25 million people may have to future prosperity.

The unnamed defenders of the State (Australia) mounted an impressive – albeit unsuccessful – defence. Whoever they are, they deserve recognition. Two examples:

 The authors have not substantiated their claim that they are victims of violations within the meaning of article 1 of the Optional Protocol. There is no evidence that the authors face any current or imminent threat of a violation of any of the rights they invoked. Moreover, the authors have not shown any meaningful causation or connection between the alleged violations of their rights and the State party’s measures or alleged failure to take measures. To demonstrate victim status, the authors must show that an act or omission by the State party has already adversely affected their enjoyment of a Covenant right, or that such an effect is imminent. By their own admission, the authors have not met that test. It is not possible, under the rules of State responsibility under international law, to attribute climate change to Australia. Relying on the Committee’s position in Teitiota v. New Zealand, the State party asserts that the authors invoke a risk that has not yet materialized. (para. 4.2, page 5)

The authors’ claims are also without merit. None of the alleged failures to take mitigation measures fall within the scope of the Covenant. It is not possible under international human rights law to attribute climate change to the State party. As a legal matter, it is not possible to trace causal links between the State party’s contribution to climate change, its efforts to address climate change, and the alleged effects of climate change on the enjoyment of the authors’ rights.  

They quoted from a 2009 report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and human rights (A/HRC/10/61), para. 70). The UNHCHR itself had stressed:

that “it is virtually impossible to disentangle the complex causal relationships linking historical greenhouse gas emissions of a particular country with a specific climate change-related effect, let alone with the range of direct and indirect implications for human rights,” and that “it is often impossible to establish the extent to which a concrete climate change-related event with implications for human rights is attributable to global warming.” (para 4.3, page 5)


Academic scholars have noted that “causal pathways involving anthropogenic climate change, and especially its impacts, are intricate and diffuse,” and that human rights law “cannot actually address the depth and breadth of the causes and impacts of climate change.” A threat that is not attributable to a State cannot be ensured or protected by that State where such protection cannot be achieved by the State alone. (para. 6.9, page 9) 

The Committee, however, rejected Australia’s defence. It had made up its collective mind.

With respect to article 24 of the Covenant, the principle of intergenerational equity places a duty on current generations to act as responsible stewards of the planet and ensure the rights of future generations to meet their developmental and environmental needs. The remedies requested by the authors are reasonable and proportionate. (para. 5.8, page 8)

The Decision contains five Annexes from various Committee Members. In Annex I, Duncan Laki Muhumuza’s “individual opinion” claimed there had been, “an appalling outcry from the authors that has not been addressed and hence, the authors’ right to life will continue to be violated and their lives endangered” (para. 9, Annex 1, page 18). The State party, Australia, had failed to take “precautionary measures” to “prevent a foreseeable loss of life from the impact of climate change” (para.10, page 18).

Furthermore, “the State Party has not taken any measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cease the promotion of fossil fuel extraction and use, which continue to affect the authors and other islanders, endangering their livelihood, resulting in the violation their rights under article 6 of the Covenant” (para. 11, page 18). And so on and so forth.

Accordingly, I find that there is a violation of Article 6 and as a Committee, we should implore the State Party to take immediate measures to protect and preserve the lives of the people at Torres Strait Islands. In order to uphold the right to life, States must take effective measures (which cannot be undertaken individually) to mitigate and adapt to climate change and prevent foreseeable loss of life. (para.17, page 19).

The “Joint opinion by Committee Members Arif Bulkan, Marcia V. J. Kran and Vasilka Sancin (partially dissenting)” in Annex III noted that:

The authors detail flood related damage, water temperature increases, loss of food sources, and most importantly, explain that the islands they live on will become uninhabitable in a mere 10-15 years according to the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), a governmental body. Together, this evidence provides “a reasonably foreseeable threat” constituting a violation of article 6.

In a kangaroo court, the outcome is generally predictable: the parties are mere pawns in a bigger game. Did the UNHRC Committee want a “ground-breaking decision” more than due process? Did it set out to create a precedent, however dubious, one that would allow – perhaps encourage – “individuals to assert claims where national systems have failed to take appropriate measures to protect those most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change”? Did it put the UN cart before the climate donkey, or vice versa?

Whatever the case, a “real and foreseeable risk” argument, however subjective, is seductive, especially when combined with the UN’s hallowed “precautionary” mantra.

State parties must duly consider the precautionary approach on climate change.  Given the urgency and permanence of climate change, the need to adhere to the precautionary approach is imperative. (para. 4, page 23)

One can only speculate, but how could the Committee be unaware that Australia’s government changed months before the release of its Decision? Indeed, the country now has “more ambition” on climate change. It has been trumpeting a new Paris Agreement commitment since mid-June this year: to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The Committee presumably should have known about it: the date of its “adoption of Views” was 21 July 2022. After all, the very “subject matter” of the case was our alleged “failure to take mitigation and adaptation measures to combat the effects of climate change”.

As for the Torres Strait Island residents, perhaps the Committee was so preoccupied with genuine human rights violations elsewhere that it missed this article in the National Indigenous Times of April 4, 2022: “Boigu Island seawall safeguards Torres Strait community from climate change”

A one kilometre seawall built on Australia’s northernmost inhabited island will mitigate coastal inundation to better protect a remote community from rising sea levels and severe weather events.

“It’s a wonderful example of what can be achieved through the collaboration of all levels of government,” said Torres Strait Regional Authority chairman Napau Pedro Stephen.

The $15 million Boigu Island project (see before-and after-photos) is part of “a $40 million program of coastal protection works across five islands in the region.” An impartial observer might conclude such action was an appropriate “adaptation” measure.

Such an observer also might conclude: that if Australia accepts the Committee’s Decision and its creation of a “pathway for individuals to assert claims” – as in the case of Daniel Billy et al, the eight Australian nationals and six of their children – then we should expect billions of other people to be walking along it quite soon and seeking compensation on the same bogus pretext.

Let King Canute have the last word. Thackeray’s poem ends with this verse:

And he bade them never more to kneel to human clay,

But alone to praise the laws that earth and sea obey:

And his golden crown he never wore from that day.

King Canute is dead and gone:  Parasites exist alway.

This article was posted in Australia at Quadrant Online on October 4, 2022.

Michael Kile      1 October 2022

Boigu Island, Torres Strait: Boigu Seawall

Photos: National Indigenous Times , April 4, 2022

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October 5, 2022 2:11 pm

A safe climate ? Say about 1000ppm CO2?

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
October 5, 2022 11:41 pm

I’d say when the world rids itself of climate catastrophists

October 5, 2022 2:13 pm

Coastlines are nice but come with some risk. Real estate on Pine Island, Fort Meyers Beach and Sanibel Island was once cheap, and it may be cheap again.

Further, people in the Keys learned to build on stilts decades ago. I wonder what lessons will arise in the aftermath of Ian.

Ron Long
October 5, 2022 2:20 pm

Good article about the extreme efforts of the CAGW Loonies, however, it’s not funny anymore. The liberal news outlets, politicians, and their associates, are out to get your money and cause mayhem and promote gender changes, watch out!

Reply to  Ron Long
October 6, 2022 5:30 am

You are, yet again, right.
Very good article.
The question is what can he done to slow, stop, even reverse, the seemingly headlong charge to Seventeenth Century living standards for those few ‘deplorables’ allowed to be serfs and concubines for our self-anointed elite.
A few hundred million of us.
A few million of them.
The rest – nada ……


Peter W
October 5, 2022 2:45 pm

Most amusing to see that China, one of the biggest emitters of CO2, is a member of the committee that published this report.

Coeur de Lion
October 5, 2022 2:46 pm

Assuming it’s CO2 that causes this harmful climate change, then the UN should be arraigning China at 31%. Don’t they have the courage?

michael hart
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
October 5, 2022 3:06 pm

Coinage often accounts for more than courage.

a happy little debunker
October 5, 2022 3:00 pm

Australia, the continent absorbs, more CO2 than Australia as a land, nation and peoples emit.
That single fact should have been a slam dunk on this UN finding …

Defund the UN and nuke it from orbit – it’s the only way to be sure!

October 5, 2022 3:19 pm

The tide gauge at Port Moresby has gone up 50mm. in 80 years, so by the look of the Boigu Island seawall, they should be good for at least another 1,600 years.

October 5, 2022 3:27 pm

Cnut is sometimes referred to as Cnut the great. I don’t believe he thought he could control the waves

Reply to  Strativarius
October 5, 2022 6:54 pm

Cnut knew his power was limited. He used the tide to stop his courtiers from over-praising him. (As the final lines of the poem show.)

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  RoHa
October 6, 2022 2:15 am

Unfortunately there is, in the UK at least, who think that Cnut was trying to to hold back the tide. It’s strange that this should be so.

Reply to  Strativarius
October 6, 2022 3:44 am

He didn’t and demonstrated that to his idiot courtiers.

John in Oz
October 5, 2022 3:30 pm

If it is so unsafe to be on those islands, forcibly remove the inhabitants to a comparative location on the mainland.

I say ‘forcibly’ as they will, no doubt, wish to remain, regardless of the claimed dangers to their safety.

They should also have all technology and products removed that were created by other than themselves, otherwise they are contributing to the ‘problem’.

Reply to  John in Oz
October 5, 2022 8:45 pm

Yes, in that final photo, a car is to be seen. And the brand new sea wall made of CONCRETE???

Horrors! Are they suicidal?

Only real surprise is that the UNHRC managed to find time for this tiny bit of nonsense, in between their main tasks of continually condemning Israel for being the only democratic country with any concern for human rights between Greece and India, (on one hand); and kissing Xi Jinping’s flabby arse on the other.

Blow up the UN and salt the debris.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  John in Oz
October 6, 2022 2:20 am

The story of the volcanic eruption on Tristan Da Cuhna in 1961 makes interesting reading in this context. A volcanic eruption and a total evacuation and final return was a big story when I was 12 years old.

Tristan Da Cuhna

October 5, 2022 4:09 pm

The United Nations is the most useless organization I am aware of. The US needs to get out of the UN and the UN needs to get out of the US. Give them a month to vacate then blow the building up. We could replace it with a sewage treatment plant, no one would know the difference.

Right-Handed Shark
Reply to  Bob
October 5, 2022 4:19 pm

They would know, it would smell fresher..

Dan Sudlik
Reply to  Bob
October 5, 2022 5:51 pm

A great place to house illegal immigrants. Much better than blowing it up 😊

Gary S
Reply to  Dan Sudlik
October 6, 2022 1:58 pm

It already is.

CD in Wisconsin
October 5, 2022 4:37 pm

Given that China and Russia are currently serving on the U.N. Human Rights Council, I think it would be somewhat difficult for a lot of people to take anything the Council does seriously at the current time.

If American bashing is still popular among many countries at the UN, the UNHRC might be useful to them in that regard even though the U.S. serves on the Council as well.

Human Rights Council Membership – UN Membership – Research Guides at United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library

October 5, 2022 4:49 pm

What the Aus govt should do in its first step towards mitigation of the climate impact in the area is to ban the sale of all fossil fuels and derived products in the affected area. No petrol for their boats, diesel for generators, no fishing lines, etc etc. see how they like the great reset. Its all just Cargo Cult trying to mine the Aus exchequer.

Reply to  TasChas
October 7, 2022 3:40 am

What Australia should do is to get out of all of these ‘human rights’ treaties. They are just used to trash Australia’s reputation.

Michael in Dublin
October 5, 2022 4:57 pm

Climate ponzi scheme?

Geoff Sherrington
October 5, 2022 5:25 pm

We are all people.
As a 5th generation Australian, I ask in return: What have these Torres Strait Islanders done to help protect me from the future damages of climate change?
Symmetry can be a bugger sometimes.
Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 5, 2022 6:52 pm

Well, Geoff, it appears they have produced some fine whines for their fellow Australians.

What? You don’t appreciate their fine whines?

Steve Case
October 5, 2022 5:41 pm

The acceleration of Climate Change insanity is very depressing. Well it isn’t insanity, Kangaroo courts aren’t insane, they know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. Meanwhile, Derek Chauvin rots in prison and Rusten Sheskey is a free man.

Steve Case
Reply to  Steve Case
October 5, 2022 7:59 pm

Posted in wrong thread.

Chris Hanley
October 5, 2022 5:44 pm

A ‘safe climate’?
It’s infantile, I blame the creators of The Teletubbies.

Alice Thermopolis
October 5, 2022 7:08 pm

There should be penalties for naughty agencies that make dodgy claims about the future, just as in the corporate sector. The UN/IMO/IPCC/HRC/etc. should be required to post a Cautionary Statement on Forward-Looking Information on their home page and elsewhere.
“Known and unknown factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements and undue reliance should not be placed on such statements and information. Such factors include, but are not limited to: risks inherent in……..natural phenomena such as earthquakes, flooding or unusually severe weather;
Accordingly, there can be no assurance that forward-looking information will prove to be accurate and forward-looking information is not a guarantee of future performance.

Reply to  Alice Thermopolis
October 6, 2022 3:02 pm

Better yet – UN claims of economic/environmental programs should be tracked by financial Etf packages.
A sunset limit would reduce/eliminate those under performing programs.
Oh the horror!

October 6, 2022 12:54 am

My daughter did a masters degree in international law and laffed all the way through it.

Campsie Fellow
October 6, 2022 1:13 am

Accordingly, I find that there is a violation of Article 6 and as a Committee, we should implore the State Party to take immediate measures to protect and preserve the lives of the people at Torres Strait Islands.
So whatever harm is supposed to have been inflicted on the residents of the Torres Straits Islands is the fault of one country and it is up to that country alone, all by itself, to fix the problem.
But I thought that “climate change” could only be solved by international action?

Old England
October 6, 2022 1:26 am

“The Optional Protocol imposes on States parties the international legal obligation to comply in good faith with the Committee’s views.”

Thus is Democracy permanently removed with no democratic input – the wet-dream of the UN, WEF, WHO, and all of the global elites.

October 6, 2022 3:22 am

The joke is that all of these islands are very low lying and always have been temporary/mobile spits and cays at risk of being swept clean or completely away by a storm.

Only an idiot would plonk a permanent home on one and then expect the processes of nature to stop.

It worked fine in the days of temporary huts built from natural materials, you could literally up sticks as and when nature demanded.

By hard landscaping the coast, removing mangroves etc., undoubtedly this will interfere with natural stabilisation and erosion and accretion and cause as many issues as they solve.

One of the complainants lived on this island and he complained that it had lost feet of land, but that was just one area in the process of remodelling, and the island is clearly mostly stable or growing.
comment image

Reply to  MrGrimNasty
October 7, 2022 3:43 am

If people removed mangrove swamps, that would be the cause of their ‘climate change’ woes. They would have been the only thing stabilising the sand.

October 6, 2022 4:06 am

The UN and its acolytes such a the IPCC is now far, far too big for its boots and thinks that it can rule the world.

It should be split up, disbanded, buried, ignored or whatever necessary to remove its all pervading Marxist influence with its far reaching tentacles reaching into many vital aspects in our societies; such as our universities,our educational system and our scientific institutions etc.etc.
Sadly FAT CHANCE with our current bunch of pathetically amoral politicians.

Mind you we voted them in mainly; so deserve what we will get and it will NOT be nice.

Ed Zuiderwijk
October 6, 2022 7:00 am

Parasites. The correct term.

Jeroen B.
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
October 6, 2022 7:05 am

I’m sorry sir, but you’re insulting parasites.

October 6, 2022 10:33 am

What qualifies someone to be an “independent human rights expert”? 

Reply to  DaveS
October 7, 2022 3:46 am

Shouting a lot.

October 6, 2022 3:46 pm

If Satan existed, he could ask for no better servants.
Perhaps men such as those are better evidence for his presence than any theology.

October 7, 2022 3:36 am

The term ‘kangaroo court’ is very apt. It’s aboriginal and means ‘I don’t know’ (an early explorer asked what that animal was of a native guide). The court clearly doesn’t know.

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