CSO Alliance Launched to Support Vanuatu Initiative to Seek an ICJ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change

On 5 May 2022, the Civil Society Organisations Alliance to Support the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu’s Bid to Request a UN General Assembly Resolution Requesting an Advisory Opinion on Climate Change from the International Court of Justice (CSO Alliance) was launched. In September 2021 the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu formally announced Vanuatu’s intention to pursue a campaign to request an ICJ Advisory Opinion on the rights of current and future generations in the context of climate change. This followed the previous positive response of the leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum (50th Pacific Island Forum (August 2019) Forum Communique, para. 16), and has had the subsequent indicated support of the Heads of Government at the Thirty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) (Communique (March 2022)). Consistent with Article 65 of the Statute of the ICJ and Article 96(1) of the UN Charter, the Vanuatu campaign has signalled its intent to table a resolution proposal before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2022 which, if adopted, would request the ICJ Advisory Opinion. The “exact statement of the question upon which an opinion is required” (Article 65, ICJ Statute) does not appear to have been publicly disclosed to-date, but the most recent comments of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu (May 2022) refers to a request “to clarify the legal obligations of states to protect human rights and the environment from climate change”.

More information is available on the websites of the Vanuatu ICJ Initiative and the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change. On former related initiatives, see the 2011 (unsuccessful) attempt by Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to have the UN General Assembly “request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the responsibilities of States under international law to ensure that activities carried out under their jurisdiction or control that emit greenhouse gases do not damage other States”, including an explicit reference to Article 194 of UNCLOS.

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