Vanuatu elevates draft resolution to UNGA requesting an advisory opinion from ICJ on climate change


Vanuatu’s special climate envoy and Permanent representative to the United Nations, Odo Tevi says together with a core group of states he will take a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on climate change.

Humanity must “leave no stone unturned in its effort to address the climate crisis”, he emphasised.

The Court can clarify the rights and obligations of States under international law and vis-à-vis small island developing States and other climate vulnerable States; due diligence requirements for emitters of greenhouse gases; and the implications on the human rights of present and future generations.

“The world is at a crossroads and we, as world leaders, have an obligation to take action that preserves and protects the planet for future generations,” he stressed.

Echoing this concern and speaking on behalf of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the representative of Samoa Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa’olelei Luteru emphasised the financial burden for loss and damages falls almost entirely on the affected nations. Seeking clarifications under existing treaties is not an exercise of litigation, but rather “morally the right thing to do”, he said.

Such a move, Vietnam’s representative added, will help shed light on unresolved legal aspects, reinforce collective efforts to combat climate change and strengthen the role of the Court as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. An advisory opinion would furthermore have a decisive impact on the future of human life on this planet, the representative of Costa Rica commented. There can be no climate justice without a human-rights-based approach, she warned.

The representative of Sierra Leone Michael Imran Kanu, pointed out that the wide range of cases before the Court illustrates that body’s universality, jurisdiction and competence to provide authoritative views on legal questions on that topic.

Fiji’s Permanent representative office in New York said on twitter “PIF leaders have commended Vanuatu on its initiative to seek an ICJ advisory opinion on the legal consequences of climatechange – the PIF family looks forward to continuing our close collaboration during UNGA77 and beyond.”

Meanwhile, Fijian Prime Minister and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Voreqe Bainimarama while congratulating new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on twitter said “I look forward to strengthening the Fiji-UK. With the legacy of the Glasgow Pact at stake at COP27, your friends in the Pacific are counting on the UK to decisively cut emissions and use its influence to demand the same of all nation.