Panel on Climate Justice before the International Court of Justice
Monday, June 12, 2023
Furman Hall 210
June 12 Climate Justice event RSVP Link
On March 29, 2023, the United Nations General Assembly adopted—without a vote and in the absence of objection from any State—its Resolution 77/276. The Resolution requests the International Court of Justice to render an advisory opinion on the legal obligations incumbent on States in respect of climate change. Putting the question of legal obligations in respect of climate change before the principal judicial organ of the United Nations is a historically significant development in international law and in climate justice. In the now pending proceeding, Obligations of States in respect of climate change, the Court is asked, first, what are the obligations of States under international law to ensure the protection of the environment from greenhouse gas emissions? The request asks, secondly, what are the legal consequences under these obligations for States that have caused significant harm to the environment?
The request for an advisory opinion refers to a number of United Nations conventions, such as the Charter, the two Human Rights Covenants, the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Paris Agreement. With the achievement of the first major procedural hurdles—agreement on the wording of the request and the passing of Resolution 77/276—the date for the next milestone has been set: written statements must be submitted by October 20, 2023. In light of this deadline, the panel looks into the questions asked of the Court and what legal strategies would be the most likely to produce the outcome that best advances climate justice:
How should the various bodies of law referred to in the request best be conceived of as relating to one another, to the questions asked of the Court and, ultimately, to climate justice?
How does the proceeding before the Court itself relate to the climate change advisory proceedings on foot before other international courts and tribunals? How, if at all, is the proceeding before the ICJ distinct? What would be the cumulative effect of these opinions for the pursuit of climate justice?
And how, no less importantly, do the questions relate to the Paris Agreement, in which the State Parties, recognizing that it would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, agreed to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels?
Eve Bain LLM ’23, Hauser Global Scholar, NYU School of Law
Eirik Bjorge, Senior Global Research Fellow, NYU School of Law
Kevin Chand, Legal Adviser, Permanent Mission of Vanuatu to the United Nations
Aahde Lahmiri, Legal Adviser, Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations
Tim McKenzie, Senior Associate, King & Spalding LLP
This event is co-sponsored by the Hauser Global Law School Program and the Permanent Mission of Vanuatu to the United Nations.