(Montreal) The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution aimed at asking the International Court of Justice to rule on states’ obligations to address the consequences of climate change.
It was Vanuatu, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean that is threatened with extinction due to climate change, that brought forward the resolution.
“Together, you are making history,” the UN Secretary-General told the 132 countries that adopted the resolution.
“The opinions of the Court – the main judicial organ of the United Nations – are of great importance and can have a lasting impact on the international legal order,” added António Guterres.
Nilufer Oral told the Associated Press that the UN’s International Court of Justice is the body’s highest court and can give “an advisory opinion on any legal question” raised by states. “While the opinion is non-binding, it will encourage countries” to go back and examine what they haven’t done and what they need to do to address the climate emergency, explained the director of the University of Singapore’s Center for International Law. .
In a UN statement on Wednesday, António Guterres explained that the International Court of Justice’s opinion on states’ obligations to address the consequences of climate change “would help the General Assembly, the United Nations and member states take the bolder and stronger climate action our world desperately needs” and that this advice ” It can also guide the actions and behavior of states in their dealings with each other, as well as in relation to their own citizens. Which is essential.”
The Vanuatu decision specifically asks the ICJ to answer these questions, including:
- “What are the obligations of states in international law with regard to protecting the climate system and other components of the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for states and current and future generations?”
- What are the legal implications of these obligations for states, including, in particular, small island states? […] particularly vulnerable.”
The victory of “Mythic proportions”
Vanuatu is hit by increasingly frequent and violent cyclones, and rising sea levels threaten the very existence of many towns and villages in this archipelago of 83 islands.
After the passage of the bill proposed by his country, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Ismail Kalsakao said Wednesday that it is “a victory for climate justice of epic proportions.”
He talked about a series of recent disasters that have devastated parts of his country, including back-to-back category 4 hurricanes. He also mentioned the typhoon Freddy which has been traversing southeast Africa in recent weeks.
“Catastrophic and compound effects like this are increasing,” he said.
With the Associated Press