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ICJ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change

The Republic of Vanuatu, bringing the initiative of the Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC) to the UN, successfully led a global coalition of 132 Co-Sponsoring countries adopting a UNGA Resolution calling for an Advisory Opinion on Climate Change from the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The ICJ climate Resolution was adopted by consensus on 29 March 2023 during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly requesting the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on the obligations of States under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change. Specifically the ICJ will give their opinion on:
(a) What are the obligations of States under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHG) for States and for present and future generations?
(b) What are the legal consequences under these obligations for States where they, by their acts and omissions, have caused significant harm to the climate system and other parts of the environment, with respect to:
(i) States, including, in particular, small island developing States, which due to their geographical circumstances and level of development, are injured or specially affected by or are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change?
(ii) Peoples and individuals of the present and future generations affected by the adverse effects of climate change

The next step is that the ICJ has requested UN member countries and Organisations to submit their written statements on the legal questions put forward to the Court. It has fixed
- 22 January 2024 as the due date for which States and Organisations can submit their written statements;
- 22 April 2024 as the due date for which those States and Organisations that have submitted their written statements may comment on the written statements of other states and Organisations.

As it is optional for member States to submit a written statement, Vanuatu would like all the UN member countries and organisations to engage in this process by submitting a written Statement to ICJ stating the evidence of how the climate change is impacting their lives, environment and their rights, or evidence that emissions are principally responsible for GHG in the atmosphere that harms the climate system.

The next step is to work together with all interested countries and organisations on their submissions. Vanuatu has made available legal experts to assist any country or organisation that is interested to make a submission to the court. Writeshops have been organised in the Pacific and similarly to the other parts of the world including Africa, Caribbean and Asia.

To take us into the next phase, we need YOUR continued support.
What can you do?
Speak to your government representatives and officials at every level and urge them to proactively engage in the submission and oral hearing processes at the International Court of Justice

Make this issue a top priority for your own advocacy and communications this year by spreading the word on the initiative and calling out for governments to recall that climate action is not a mere matter of discretion, but an exacting requirement under a range of international laws.

Get involved in local government and civil society organizations to build up community awareness of climate change and its impacts on human rights and intergenerational equity, and the importance of comprehensive and progressive advisory opinion from the ICJ.

Story Information:

Country: Vanuatu

Topic: Innovative Solutions

Photo or video credit: Vanuatu ICJ Initiative

Text Credit: Vanuatu ICJ

Date : 9 August 2023

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