International Court of Justice preparing
advisory opinion on climate change
29 March 2023, updated 4 September 2023
At the request of the UN General Assembly the International Court of Justice is now considering an advisory opinion on the Obligations of States in respect of Climate Change, and it has established a website for all the documentation submitted concerning the potential advisory opinion. The website is https://www.icj-cij.org/case/187.
On 29 March 2023 the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution seeking an advisory opinion on climate change and human rights from the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
This was a milestone moment in a campaign launched over two years ago by the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC), in a law school classroom in Vanuatu.
It was taken forward as a diplomatic endeavor by the Government of Vanuatu who worked alongside a core group of 18 nations to prepare the first draft of the resolution, and ultimately won the backing of over 120 countries before it was tabled in the UN on 29 March. The adoption by consensus for an advisory opinion from the ICJ is unprecedented.
An advisory opinion from the ICJ will provide clarity to States on their obligations under international law to protect their people, now and in the future, from climate impacts and their responsibility in upholding fundamental human rights.
While non-binding in nature, it will add weight to efforts to hold governments accountable on their climate promises and strengthen climate negotiations in multilateral fora, and it can be cited in climate litigation.
The General Assembly decision was a significant diplomatic moment for Vanuatu and Pacific Island nations who have a strong legacy in climate leadership. For instance, Vanuatu and small island developing states have long championed the need for a Loss and Damage fund – which came to fruition at COP27- and more recently led a six-nation Pacific pledge, ‘Port Vila call‘, to phase out of fossil fuels and called for a global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“This is not a silver bullet but it can make an important contribution to climate action. The world is at a crossroads and we as the international community have the obligation to take greater action. Together we can send a loud and clear message into the future that on this very day the people of the United Nations acting through their governments decided to leave behind their differences and act together to tackle the challenge of climate change,” said H.E. Ishmael Kalsakau, Prime Minister of Vanuatu, as he introduced the draft resolution at the UN plenary hall.
SOURCE: https://climatenetwork.org/2023/03/29/major-climate-diplomacy-breakthro… with updates.
Last updated 4 September 2023