Young Pacific activists and students, alongside Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Pacific Climate Warriors, Amnesty International, and others held a major flotilla calling on world leaders to support climate justice by endorsing the campaign for an advisory opinion on the human rights impacts of climate change at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) kicks off. 

Pacific students, climate activists, and civil society from across the world gathered at the University of the South Pacific to launch a major action as leaders convene for one of the most important PIF Leaders Summits in recent memory.

Students and campaigners are seeking to rally support from world leaders to support an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on Human Rights and Climate Change. The campaign is being led by the Vanuatu Government, alongside the Civil Society Alliance Supporting an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on Climate Change (CSO ICJAO Alliance), which represents more than 1,500 civil society groups from all regions of the world.

The action saw more than 20 boats, canoes, and SUPs traverse the Fijian coastline, unfurling an over-water banner, with a chain of participants onshore and in the water joining with banners and chants calling on leaders to support the ICJ Advisory Opinion.

Vishal Prasad, Campaigner with Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change, said: 

“The time for band-aid solutions has passed. We are seeing the impacts of climate change on a daily basis – on our livelihoods, housing, food, water, sanitation, healthcare and the environment.

“This is a global problem and we need a global solution. An advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice is exactly that. It would mean we could better enforce the Paris Climate Agreement, and by ensuring human rights is at the fore of all climate responses. 

“It would allow the peoples of the Pacific, who are experiencing the worst of the climate crisis, to affect broad, accelerated change. This is an idea whose time has come and we call on world leaders to step up and support it.”

Steph Hodgins-May, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific said:

“Today’s action sends a strong message to leaders arriving for the Pacific Islands Forum. These individuals, and the governments they represent, have the power to make a huge difference to global climate policy by supporting the campaign for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on Human Rights and Climate Change.

“Nations which are on the frontline of the climate crisis – many of which are in the Pacific – are bearing the brunt of cyclones, rising seas, and other extreme weather events. These climate impacts are destroying the human rights of millions of people. Their livelihoods, health, and environments are at serious risk, yet they have little recourse to change their circumstances. 

“An ICJ ruling will explore how climate change is affecting the human rights of people and create legal clarity on how to address it, including providing an international legal framework for those experiencing the worst of the climate crisis to affect broad, accelerated change. 

“By voting yes at the UN General Assembly, countries can ensure that Pacific Island nations have a greater voice on the international stage, and provide a legal framework for countries around the globe.”

Joseph Zane Sikulu, Pacific Managing Director said:

“Today was both a celebration of Pacific climate activism and a pointed message to the Pacific Islands Forum leaders. Climate change is a human rights crisis, and an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice could help bolster climate action. If we are to appeal to the international community to support the call for an ICJ ruling, we first need our Pacific leaders to speak as one voice and as one ocean.

We are calling on the Pacific Island leaders to show us that they value our lives and our survival, so that the rest of the world can follow.”

Rose Kulak, Amnesty International Australia campaigner said:

“With all the regional leaders gathered at the front line of the climate crisis, we hope they heed the calls of the people bearing the brunt of rising seas and catastrophic weather events. This is a human rights crisis in the making – but there is still time to act. 

“Australia must take responsibility for our contribution to the crisis and support those at the very sharp end of a looming catastrophe.”

This story was originally published at Greenpeace on 09 July 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.

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