Giving International Court of Justice a say could make climate-related processes more justice-oriented

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Source: The post is based on the article “Giving International Court of Justice a say could make climate-related processes more justice-oriented” published in the Indian Express on 31st March 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 3: Environment and Bio-diversity Conservation.

Relevance: About the UNGA resolution on climate injustice

News: Recently, a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution has asked the International Court of Justice to evaluate options under international law for suing countries failing to avert climate emergencies.

About the UNGA resolution on climate injustice

The resolution was sponsored by the small Pacific island nation, Vanuatu. It was adopted unanimously by the UNGA.

According to the UNGA, the resolution will provide clarity to states on their obligations under international law to protect their people, now and in the future, from climate impacts.

Reason for adoption: Many countries are now asserting their right to reparations after climate emergencies, for example, Pakistan.

Read more: India Submits its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy to UNFCCC

What is the significance of the UNGA resolution on climate injustice?

a) The ICJ’s opinion will not be binding but its pronouncements carry moral weight, b) The resolution reflects the frustration of the international community — especially of small island countries — with the procedures of the global climate agencies, particularly the UNFCCC, c) The resolution testifies to the global consensus on the climate crisis, d) The advisory could set the stage for countries incorporating climate justice in their legal frameworks. Just like the UN Declaration of Human Rights has found a place in statute books across the world and e) The intervention of ICJ could make climate-related processes more justice-oriented.

What are the previous instances where climate change negotiations were taken by a non-environmental UN forum?

Global warming has been part of the UN Security Council’s agenda since 2007. From time to time in the past 15 years, the UNSC has tried to frame the issue from a security standpoint, instead of looking at it from only a developmental or environmental perspective.

However, both India and China have rightly resisted the securitisation of climate change.

Must read: IPCC AR 6 Synthesis Report

What should be done?

Though the UNGA resolution on climate injustice is talking about rights and justice instead of securitisation, holding individual countries to account for their climate inaction will have many challenges.

Instead of continuing climate change negotiations on a non-environmental UN forum, the nations should work on reforming the UNFCCC. UNFCCC need to be more equity-sensitive and justice-oriented. But for that, it requires support from wealthy members like the US.

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