Vanuatu’s Attorney General (AG) Arnold Kiel Loughman and a team of lawyers from the AG’s Office were on Tanna recently to collect first-hand testimonies of the impacts of climate change on communities.
They visited multiple communities around the island and included a series of community meetings gathering statements from key spokespersons with specific climate impact knowledge within those communities.
A statement from the Vanuatu Climate Diplomacy Programme under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the mission supports Vanuatu’s climate change case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and aims to document and amplify the voices of those directly affected by climate change.
“Testimonies and impact statements from the people affected by climate change are an important part of Vanuatu’s case and intend to bring a ‘human element’ to the legal arguments-to help the ICJ judges recognise that this case is not just a debate or words on paper and in a court room, the advisory opinion of the ICJ judges will have impacts on real people,” the Vanuatu Climate Diplomacy Programme stated.
“Vanuatu’s legal submission will represent legal arguments to the ICJ that climate change is impacting on a range of human rights, including the rights to self-determination and culture, the rights to life, a healthy environment, health and education, as well as the child’s rights and the rights of future generations.
“Kastom Chiefs were interviewed in this process to ensure that the Court can take into consideration the loss and damage caused by climate change to Vanuatu’s indigenous cultures, languages and kastom, and how the GHG emissions of polluter states are responsible for this damage.”
AG Loughman said, “Vanuatu is on the front lines of climate change, and the impacts are already being felt by our communities”.
“By collecting these testimonies, we aim to strengthen our case and advocate for the urgent need for global action to address climate change,” he said.
The deadline to submit written statements to the ICJ has been extended until 22 March 2024.
Vanuatu will be joined by over 50 aligned developing States in presenting written statements to the ICJ in March, despite increasing interventions from polluter States to silence the voices of Pacific Island nations in the legal proceedings.
Vanuatu Climate Diplomacy Programme is a dedicated initiative managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Climate Change and the Office of the AG aimed at advancing Vanuatu’s efforts in climate justice and diplomacy.
Through collaboration and strategic partnerships, the programme seeks to advocate for climate justice on the global stage and safeguard the interests of Vanuatu in the face of climate change.
This story was originally published at Vanuatu Daily Post on 17 January 2024, reposted via PACNEWS.