It is with deep sadness that the Pacific Community acknowledges the passing of the Honourable Tony A. deBrum, a political force for the people of the Marshall Islands, a champion for the entire Pacific in the fight to mitigate the impact of climate change, and a world-renowned advocate on the danger of nuclear weapons.
The Pacific Community’s Director General, Colin Tukuitonga, reflecting on Mr. deBrums significant work with SPC and in the Pacific region said, “He was a giant of the Pacific, who spent his career raising the profile of the region’s small islands and fighting to improve the lives of their people”.
Mr. deBrum grew up on the island of Likiep during the period when the region was the location for 67 nuclear tests. The environmental and heath impact of this testing made a deep and lasting impression on Mr. deBrum, who described the detonations as, “a jolt on my soul that has never left me”.
Mr. deBrum went on to lead a distinguished career in public service, holding the positions of Minister of Education, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister in Assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands.
In 2015, Mr. deBrum and his legal team received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for their efforts to hold nuclear armed nations accountable for their failure to persue negotiations on the elimination of nuclear weapons. The same year he took part in the United Nations Climate Change Conference and succeeded in creating the “High Ambition Coalition”, a partnership between developed and developing countries to tackle the challenges of climate change and bring the voices of the Pacific into the global debate.
Mr. de Brum is survived by his wife, three children, ten grandchildren and five great grandchildren.