Tony Debrum was a close friend and hero of the Marshall Islands. He was involved in a number of hugely influential advocacy campaigns, including sueing the world governments over their failure to comply with Nuclear Weapon disarmament agreements. His famous quote on the floor of the United Nations –
“I wonder how many in this room have actually witnessed a detonation of a nuclear weapon,” Mr. deBrum said to 191 nations in the U.N. General Assembly hall in April 2015, when he was the republic’s minister of foreign affairs. He paused for effect, then continued: “I have.” The Marshallese people “still carry a burden which no other people or nation should ever have to bear.”
Tony saw a connection between the victims of all exploited people – of both victims of war, and nuclear bombs at the aggression of the imperial nations, but also with the future victims of rising sea levels and extreme weather events caused by climate change. He was instrumental in the Paris Climate agreement, and was pushed to keep the limit of average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees rather than the 2 degrees originally planned.
Tony also worked with Martin Daly on the concept of the Shark Sanctuary – and when implemented, it was the largest Shark Sanctuary on earth. As other nations followed suit, the Marshalls, along with its neighbors in Micronesia, have created the largest contigious shark protection zone on earth – larger than the continetnal United States.
On tony’s passing in August 0f 2017, Daly said “The guy was a shining light, you know. And, I really, really miss him.” Yokwe and Kommol Tata, Tony.