Time For Climate Action And Climate Justice Is Now: UN Chief

By Outlook Planet Desk April 01, 2023

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will be consulted over nations' obligations to tackle climate change by the UN General Assembly

Time For Climate Action And Climate Justice Is Now: UN Chief
Losses and damages will continue to climb, particularly in Asia, Africa, LDCs, SIDs (Small Island Developing States), Central and South America, and the Arctic. DepositPhotos

After the unanimous approval of a resolution, the UN General Assembly will ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for its opinion on the responsibility of nations to combat climate change.

The resolution, which focuses on the negative effects of climate change on small island developing States as well as climate justice, was proposed by the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu, which had recently been hit by a cyclone. It was endorsed by a "core group" of 17 nations from various areas.

The main judicial body of the UN is the ICJ, often known as the World Court. Its advisory opinions have moral and legal authority even though they are not legally enforceable.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres mentioned the advisory views of the Court's relevance in his remarks prior to the voting.

“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,” he said.   

The most recent climate research, which was released this month, was cited by Mr. Guterres as evidence that almost all of the past 200 years' global warming has been caused by humans.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) study also demonstrated that limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is feasible, but that there is a limited amount of time left.

The head of the UN emphasised that the time for climate action and climate justice is now.

“The climate crisis can only be overcome through cooperation – between peoples, cultures, nations, generations.  But festering climate injustice feeds divisions and threatens to paralyse global climate action,” he warned.  

Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, the prime minister of Vanuatu, stated that the world's efforts to combat climate change and foster cooperation "are still far from what is needed" and that an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) might offer clarity.

He emphasised the significant role played by young law students in the Pacific who served as the initiative's inspiration and said the resolution's final text was the result of extensive consultations and deliberations.

Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement in which he enthusiastically praised the "landmark resolution."

According to him, an advisory opinion from the ICJ "may be a crucial stimulus for the urgent, ambitious, and equitable climate action that is needed to stop global warming as well as to limit and rectify harms to human rights caused by climate change."

He also praised the resolution's "strong awareness of today's relevance for future generations."

According to the UN's rights chief, his office, OHCHR, has thoroughly studied the effects of climate change on human rights and outlined the duties that States and other actors have to uphold those rights.

“States have obligations to mitigate and adapt to – and address loss and damage resulting from – climate change,” said Mr. Türk.  “We look forward to sharing this expertise in this highly significant process before the International Court of Justice.