Vote on the ICJ resolution to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change is expected next month at the UNGA

An historic vote at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, calling for decisive action on global warming is expected next month.

Vanuatu with a growing coalition of supporting States is putting the final touches on the draft resolution asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to deliver an advisory opinion on the obligations of States under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change.

“Global warming is our enroute to Armageddon,” Prime Minister, Ishmael Kalsakau said.

“We are living in a reality where children such as Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate have been forced by circumstances to amplify the voice of our children of tomorrow, while some leaders and much of the adult population of this world are either hopelessly ignorant or blatantly greedy.

“What child in their right mind can be proud to be rooted in such history?”

PM Kalsakau said the government he leads has been lobbying all members of the United Nations to support the resolution calling for ‘clarity of responsibility’.

“It should not be up to children – it should be up to the world’s leaders to take a stand that brings about change. It must be more than words,” he said.

“I may be representing a country of just 300,000 people, but this campaign is for every citizen of the world – whether they come from Sweden, Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Brazil or the United Kingdom. And I’m speaking to those world leaders of several billion people right now – please, protect your children and vote yes at the UN next month.”

Whilst the draft resolution is being prepared for tabling at the UN, PM Kalsakau said the question asked of the ICJ will be quite straight forward.

“The signalling aspect of both the question and the expected answer lies in that States falling short of what is required under existing obligations (not limited to the Paris Agreement) are subject to legal consequences,” he said.

“This is a key forward-looking dimension, which has played a significant role in domestic law, where the potential intervention of courts has led governments to take or increase action.

“The same is expected internationally, including in the relations between the expected advisory opinion and the level of ambition displayed in climate change negotiations and domestic policies.”

Kalsakau, a lawyer and former Attorney-General said human rights must be at the centre of climate decisions and the World Court needs to provide legal clarity for those decisions.

“Climate change is an existential threat to the most vulnerable. That all States must take urgent action to combat climate change has been acknowledged by almost every organ of the United Nations. But a major gap remains — the International Court of Justice,” he said.

The PM added the push for an advisory opinion started in the classrooms of South Pacific Universities.

“Our youth began this campaign, it is time for world leaders to finish it by voting YES at the UN,” he said.

This story was originally published at Vanuatu Daily Post on 10 February 2023, reposted via PACNEWS.

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