In September 2021, the Government of Vanuatu announced its intention to seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the obligations of States under international law to protect the environment for future generations (the ‘ICJAO campaign’).
This initiative was launched by the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC), a youth-led organization formed by students from the University of South Pacific in 2019, whose objective is to advance rights-based solutions to combat climate change.
The objective is that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopts a resolution requesting the ICJ to emit an advisory opinion that “clarifies the legal consequences, based on existing international treaties and principles, for significantly harming the climate system – particularly in Small Island and Developing States and other developing nations which are already experiencing devastating climate impacts”.
An International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion (ICJAO) would clarify international law on climate ambition and resolve gaps and ambiguities, particularly in the areas of human rights, environmental protection, and intergenerational equity.
Such an advisory opinion would be a powerful tool in bolstering state action on climate change, complementing and strengthening the Paris Agreement, integrating climate change and human rights law, providing necessary baselines for state action on adaptation, mitigation, and finance; as well as guiding local, regional, and international adjudications.
The existential impacts of climate change on human lives and fundamental human rights necessitate legal clarity in the interpretation of international law. That is why the Global Pact Coalition is supporting the ICJAO campaign with the PISFCC alliance.
On October 28th, 2022, the core group drafting the resolution, led by Vanuatu, was formally announced at the UNGA, counting: Vanuatu, Antigua & Barbuda, Costa Rica, Sierra Leone, Angola, Germany, Mozambique, Liechtenstein, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Bangladesh, Morocco, Singapore, Uganda, New Zealand, Vietnam, Romania and Portugal.
On November 29th 2022, the core group published the zero draft resolution.
Now all UN member States can make suggestions and feedback before UNGA votes, early 2023. A majority of 97 States at the UNGA must vote in favor of the resolution to refer the matter to the ICJ, which will then deliver the advisory opinion.
We call upon all UN member States to vote in favor of the submission of the ICJAO, so that we can advance human rights protection in the wake of climate change.
Find out more in the campaign’s legal report: https://cutt.ly/s1DBcdW