The Pacific Islands Forum Chair, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, has ‘warmly welcomed’ the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a new UN Resolution asking the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on climate change.
The ICJ advisory opinion will address the question of where states have obligations to address climate change, and if they do—then whether they should face consequences of failing to do so.
The resolution has been an open secret, launched by Vanuatu as part of a global campaign led by Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change. The law students have been supported and resourced, gaining the support of the Vanuatu government before steadily gaining traction over several years to reach the March 29th tabling of the draft resolution which was passed by consensus by more than 130 members of the United Nations General Assembly.
In his statement, the Forum Chair noted the popular global support to the ICJAO campaign.
“Its adoption by consensus and the widespread co-sponsorship of this resolution by two thirds of the UN membership is affirmation that nations are united in our collective commitment to abide by existing climate obligations under international law, and to successful international climate cooperation,” said Prime Minister Brown.
“Today marks a profound moment in the history of our Blue Pacific, and the world.”
He said the resolution “leaves the world’s most vulnerable nations in no doubt that there is an obligation of stewardship upon all nations to ensure this one Blue Planet will continue to sustain all peoples, today and into the future.”
“Coming in the wake of the IPCC report, we find ourselves faced with an incredible opportunity where both the highest level of the international legal order, and the highest global level of scientific analysis on the climate, are offering a way forward through the looming existential crisis,” he said.
The IPCC and the UN General Assembly have affirmed the dire reality confronting the world’s most vulnerable nation states, he said, congratulating the Government, “for spearheading this global initiative and for reaffirming the Pacific’s ongoing leadership on climate action, justice and advocacy at the international level. I also offer my congratulations to all countries who have co-sponsored this resolution at the UN – This is a win for all.”
Ahead of the vote the UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that the Court’s advisory opinions have tremendous importance.
“If and when given, such an opinion would assist the General Assembly, the UN and Member States, to take the bolder and stronger climate action that our world so desperately needs,” said Guterres.
With Pacific celebrations at fever pitch across the social media circles, Vanuatu was well into celebration mode with public events planned.
For the Forum Chair Mark Brown, the timing also gives impetus to the current meetings in Fiji as well as the recent release of the latest and final combined IPCC update on the state of global climate.
“The region meets this week in Fiji to discuss the legal implications arising from the inundation of a state’s entire land territory and what this might mean for statehood and sovereignty in relation to international law. The threat of sea-level rise and the erosion of our statehood are very real and present dangers we must face head-on,” said PM Brown.
“As the world prepares for COP28, I strongly encourage the international community to enhance our collective momentum towards active and equitable transformation to renewable energy, and to continue advocating for stronger and more urgent and ambitious climate action now.”
His view that the success of the Pacific and global sponsors “belongs to everyone” was shared by many, who see the strong support for the resolution as proof that the world is ready to take climate action, and climate justice seriously.