UNGA: Request for an ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Obligation of States in Respect of Climate Change

On 29 March 2023 the UNGA adopted, by consensus without a vote, Resolution 77/276: Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change (currently available as UN Doc. A/77/L.58). The previously reported ICJ Core Group of Nations, led by Vanuatu, were joined by 132 Co-Sponsors in tabling the resolution. The operative paragraph provides that the UNGA:

Decides, in accordance with Article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations, to request the International Court of Justice, pursuant to Article 65 of the Statute of the Court, to render an advisory opinion on the following question:

“Having particular regard to the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the duty of due diligence, the rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the principle of prevention of significant harm to the environment and the duty to protect and preserve the marine environment,

(a) What are the obligations of States under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for States and for present and future generations;

(b) What are the legal consequences under these obligations for States where they, by their acts and omissions, have caused significant harm to the climate system and other parts of the environment, with respect to:
(i) States, including, in particular, small island developing States, which due to their geographical circumstances and level of development, are injured or specially affected by or are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change?
(ii) Peoples and individuals of the present and future generations affected by the adverse effects of climate change?

UNGA Resolution 77/276, pp. 3-4.

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