From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : ICJ
Mains level : Climate justice and reparations
Central idea: On March 29, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding the obligations countries have towards climate change reduction.
Facts for prelims: International Court of Justice (ICJ)
Vanuatu seeks climate reparations
- The resolution, which was passed by consensus, was pushed through by the Pacific Island of Vanuatu, which was devastated by Cyclone Pam in 2015.
- This resolution is significant because it invokes article 96 of the U.N. Charter and seeks to clarify the legal obligations of states to protect the climate system.
Resolution A/77/L.58: What does it seek?
The draft resolution (A/77/L.58) asks the ICJ to deliberate on two questions:
- Obligations of states: Under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system for present and future generations
- Legal consequences: For states that have caused significant harm to the climate system, particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and for people who are harmed?
Frameworks invoked by Vanuatu
The resolution refers to several international protocols, including the-
- Paris Agreement
- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
What do sponsors of the resolution want?
- The sponsors of the resolution expect an advisory opinion from the ICJ to bolster the efforts under the global climate pledge.
- The opinion is also expected to clarify more contentious issues, such as-
- Climate reparations by the developed world,
- Legal culpability for countries that don’t achieve their NDC promises
- Climate support to the most vulnerable parts of the world
Where does India stand over this?
- India has been silent about the resolution, although it is generally supportive of climate justice and holding the developed world accountable for global warming.
- India did not co-sponsor the draft resolution, unlike its neighbors Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
If ICJ intervenes, what would change?
- Only advisory opinion: The ICJ is being asked for an advisory opinion, which would not be legally binding as an ICJ judgment.
- Puts moral obligation: The ICJ carries “legal weight and moral authority”.
- Symbolic significance: ICJ’s clarification of international environmental laws would make the process more streamlined, particularly as the COP process looks at various issues like climate finance, climate justice, and the most recently agreed to “loss and damages” etc.
- The resolution passed by the UNGA requesting an advisory opinion from the ICJ is a step in the right direction towards clarifying the legal obligations of states to mitigate climate change and protect the environment for future generations.
- To ensure the success of this effort, countries need to continue to engage in diplomatic efforts and work towards shared goals.
- Countries should also actively participate in the ICJ process and respect the advisory opinion it delivers.