Vanuatu will seek International Court of Justice opinion on climate protection

During a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman called on the international community to urgently scale up efforts to address the climate crisis, and warned that its effects “are increasingly eluding the control of individual national governments.”

“For us and other small island developing states especially, our biggest threats are global — most notably climate change, the management of our oceans and of course the Covid-19 pandemic,” Loughman said.

The island chain of Vanuatu is home to nearly 250,000 residents, according to the UN.

Loughman’s comments followed a Vanuatu government statement announcing that it plans to ask the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the rights of present and future generations to be protected from the impacts of climate change, Reuters reported.

“Current levels of action and support for vulnerable developing countries within multilateral mechanisms are insufficient,” the government statement reportedly said.

The International Court of Justice’s role is “to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and to give advisory opinions on legal questions,” according to its website.

The push from Vanuatu comes ahead of climate talks at the UN’s COP26 summit in Scotland in November.

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Environmental advocacy group “Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change” welcomed the announcement, calling it “a huge milestone” in a Facebook post.

“We are overjoyed that the Vanuatu government has announced it will take #climatechange to the World’s Highest Court,” the post says.

“Our planet is suffering and we need to get moving again, rebuild communities and join efforts to rescue the planet, recover economies and restore hope,” Loughman said in his UNGA address.

“We must combine our efforts to address our global challenges and make sure that no one is left behind.”

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