UN General Assembly approves petition to ICJ on climate change by consensus
On Wednesday 29 March 2023, the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change.
The initiative for this resolution was led by Vanuatu and had garnered the support of 105 states prior to Wednesday’s adoption. The resolution (available here) requests the ICJ to provide guidance on: a) the scope of international obligations for the protection of the climate and the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for States and for present and future generations; and b) the legal consequences under these obligations for States that have caused significant harm to the climate and the environment. The latter with respect to States specially affected or particularly vulnerable and peoples and individuals of the present and future generations affected by the effects of climate change.
This historic vote will give the Court an important opportunity to confirm the vital role of human rights treaties related to the fight against climate change. In particular, the resolution asks the Court to pay specific regard to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights among others. Consequently, the Court will be able to link climate action with human rights obligations under legally binding treaties.