Monday, September 27, 2021

Climate Change: Off to the World Court?

Vanuatu is leading a push to take the issue of climate change to the World Court:

Vanuatu will ask the International court of justice for an advisory opinion on the rights of present and future generations to be protected from climate change.


Ahead of the summit, Vanuatu will expand “its diplomacy and advocacy” by forming a coalition with fellow Pacific Islands and other vulnerable nations to push the initiative.

An advisory opinion would require a majority vote at the UN General Assembly. I'd expect Aotearoa to support this. Its in perfect alignment with our stated goals and values - environmental protection and a law-governed international order. OTOH, you'd also think that of the IUCN's deep-sea mining moratorium, which the government abstained from.

An advisory opinion isn't legally binding. But it would be influential. National courts will listen to it. Governments will listen to it. And even if it doesn't result in the outcome we want, it will almost certainly tell us what we need to do to get it (in the way that the Advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons effectively told us we needed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to establish a cusomary prohibion).

You can read more about the campaign here.