ADVISORY OPINION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

  • The UN asked the International Court of Justice to give an ‘advisory opinion’ on whether countries have legal obligations to protect people from climate extremities.
  • The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that asked the International Court of Justice at The Hague to provide an opinion on what kind of obligations countries have towards climate change reduction, based on the promises they have made to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The resolution passed by consensus had been pushed through by one of the smallest countries in the world, the Pacific Island of Vanuatu.
  • The island was devastated in 2015 by the effects of Cyclone Pam, believed to have been spurred by climate change, that wiped out 95% of its crops and affected two-thirds of its population.

The resolution refers to several international protocols including:

  1. the Paris Agreement (2015),
  2. the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and
  3. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

India’s position

  • India did not join the overwhelming majority of countries that co-sponsored the draft resolution.
  • In the neighbourhood, the list of co-sponsors included Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and a number of island countries in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • India is also watching how global powers like the U.S. and China respond to the resolution, as without their support, it will be hard to implement.

Is the advisory opinion of the ICJ binding?

  • The ICJ is being asked for an “advisory opinion”, which by definition would not be legally binding as an ICJ judgment.
  • However, its clarification of international environmental laws would make the process more streamlined.
  • The ICJ carries legal weight and moral authority such as advisory opinions given in the past on the Palestinian issue (Construction of the Wall) and nuclear threats that have been respected.
 The International Court of Justice

·        The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).

·        It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations.

Headquarter:

·        The seat of the Court is in The Hague (Netherlands).

·        Of the six principal organs of the United Nations, it is the only one not located in New York (United States of America).

 Role:

The Court’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 referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and specialized agencies.

Composition:

·        The Court is composed of 15 judges, who are elected for terms of office of nine years by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

·        It is assisted by a Registry, its administrative organ.

Official languages:

English and French.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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