Environmental justice: the UN passed a historic resolution

UA small nation in the Pacific Ocean and a group of young people recently set a milestone for climate justice. It’s about his condition Vanuatu and young people are activists and law students who led a historic vote: thanks to them, the UN passed a historic resolution on climate, human rights and justice. In other words, through this step it will be easier to hold polluting countries legally responsible for not addressing the climate crisis. I will explain everything below
Climate change: what the new United Nations report says


Climate change: what the new United Nations report says

LARGE’UNGA (General Assembly of the United Nations) is the most important consultative body of the United Nations and consists of 193 countries that meet every year to discuss issues of global interest, while the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, is based in the Palace of Peace in the Dutch city of The Hague and its duty is to settle disputes between states and to give opinions on matters of international law.

What is the State of Vanuatu? It is an island nation, one of the most threatened by climate change: the islands of the archipelago are affected by extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods and droughts that have devastating effects on the country’s economy and environment. The state consists of 83 small islands of which only 65 are inhabited and is located east of Australia and west of Fiji.

On 30 November 2022 Vanuatu and 17 other countries incl Angola, Mozambique, Singapore, New Zealand, Germany, Portugal, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Samoa, Sierra Leone and the Federated States of Micronesia have proposed a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly

In the latter they asked to ensure that the ICJ can provide:

  • advisory opinions on states’ obligations in relation to climate change
  • clarify what the legal obligations are for states that have damaged the climate and the environment
  • to build on the IPCCC as well as the Paris Agreement.

In other words, according to the draft, the International Court of Justice must clarify what the legal consequences are for those who pollute and endanger our future.

In fact, a small state in open challenge to the rest of the world. To put it another way, David vs. Goliath

However, those of the International Court of Justice would be opinions without binding value but which could give a huge boost to the increasingly clear definition of the famous Lost and Damage, a much-discussed “cap” of loss and damage in the field of climate disturbances.

A few days ago this proposal was approved (so it became an official UNGA decision) and Vanuatu is celebrating. The resolution was supported by more than 120 governments and the state’s premier said: “Today we have witnessed a victory of epic proportions for climate justice (…) it is the beginning of a new era in multilateral climate cooperation, an “era focused more on upholding the international rule of law and this puts human rights and intergenerational equity at the forefront of climate decision-making.”

Under this resolution, therefore, the judges of the Court, in giving their views, will rely both on global policies to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels and on the NDCs, acronym for Nationally Determined Contributions, or governments’ pledges to reduce emissions. Although it is not a binding instrument, as mentioned earlier, it can in any case be a strong political and diplomatic pressure for countries that are less willing to respect international agreements on climate change.

As the Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “For some countries there are climate threats death penalty. In fact, it is the initiative of these countries, with many others, along with the efforts of young people around the world, that unites us. And together you write history.”

What should make us proud is that Italy was among the countries that promoted this resolution!

Federica Gasbarro works with The Wom independently and is in no way associated with the advertisements that may appear in this content.

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