UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution Requesting Advisory Opinion on States’ Obligations Concerning Climate Change
On March 29, 2023, the UN General Assembly (“UNGA”) adopted by consensus a resolution (A/77/L.58) requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (“ICJ” or “Court”) on the obligations of states in respect of climate change. The resolution results from coordinated efforts by the Republic of Vanuatu, along with a “Core Group” of states, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, the Federated States of Micronesia, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Uganda, and Viet Nam. The efforts of the Core Group drew on grassroots and civil society support, and the resolution was ultimately co-sponsored by more than 130 UN member states (although not the United States, Brazil, India, China, or Russia).
This marks the latest effort to ask international courts and tribunals to clarify the legal obligations of states in relation to climate change. In the last few months, similar requests for advisory opinions have been submitted to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (“ITLOS”) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (“IACHR”).
Questions in the UNGA Resolution
The UNGA resolution observes that “as temperatures rise, impacts from climate and weather extremes […] will pose an ever-greater social, cultural, economic and environmental threat.” It asks the ICJ to issue its opinion on the following questions:
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;
Continue Reading The World Court Set to Become the Latest Venue for Climate Change Jurisprudence