PanamaTimes

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pacific Islands students target U.N. court as key weapon to fight climate change

Pacific Islands students target U.N. court as key weapon to fight climate change

In the shadow of the United Nations' towering headquarters in New York City, law student Solomon Yeo from an island nation in the South Pacific is taking in what he describes as a “surreal moment.”

Less than three years ago, he was chatting with fellow law students at the University of the South Pacific in Vanuatu about how they might someday help transform how the world tackles climate change.

Now, as world leaders descend upon New York for the UN General Assembly, Yeo and his fellow Pacific Islands students stand at the brink of ensuring that the world's biggest and smallest countries know their obligation to deal with climate change. To do that, they are closing in on their goal of successfully petitioning the world's highest court - the UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The idea emerged as a law school conversation - what if they could persuade the ICJ to issue an advisory opinion on climate change? Such a thing had been tried before, by Palau’s government in 2012. But Yeo, who comes from the Solomon Islands, and the other students decided that a second effort could succeed if supported by leaders across the climate-vulnerable South Pacific.

And so, the students wrote letters - to island nation officials, legal scholars and environmental advocates - asking for support for their campaign. Now in New York, with dozens of his student colleagues, Yeo is giddy with the possibility of success.

“We never thought that it will ever reach this stage of the campaign,” he told Reuters. “It is truly an amazement to be here.”

An advisory opinion from the ICJ would not be legally binding in any jurisdiction, but it could clarify the international law around what responsibilities governments have to their citizens and other countries in relation to climate change. It could even define climate change as a human rights issue, similar to religious freedom or the right of education.

On Saturday, amid the bustle of midtown Manhattan, young Pacific Islands climate activists will launch a week of publicity promoting their effort, starting with a flotilla of boats lining up along the East River carrying placard-holding climate justice activists up to the United Nations, organizers said.

The activities will end with the government of Vanuatu and allies asking for the issue be put to a vote at U.N. General Assembly.

A successful vote, Yeo said, could result in the assembly referring the request to the ICJ in The Hague as soon as December.

It will be up to Vanuatu and supporting countries to decide exactly how to phrase the request, and what legal question it will ask the court to advise on. But Vanuatu's ambassador to the U.N., Odo Tevi, told Reuters the island nation was likely to focus on states' obligations to climate-vulnerable countries and to future generations.

"In the last five years, we have had two Category 5 cyclones, which wiped out almost 60% of our economy. So we think we also have the moral force to take up this cause," Tevi said.

With climate change accelerating the rise of sea levels, many low-lying island states and coastal communities face increasing risk from storms and flooding in coming years.

Spokesperson Bianca Beddoe of the 39-member Alliance of Small Island States, of which Vanuatu is a member, said the campaign "is a bold, important proposition ... and it will be important for consideration by all countries and the General Assembly.”

LEGAL AND MORAL AUTHORITY


Despite having no binding force, the ICJ's advisory opinions can still carry legal weight and moral authority, experts say. They are used often in diplomacy and in clarifying the law on complex international matters.

Such an opinion is increasingly needed, said ClientEarth lawyer Sam Hunter-Jones, as climate-related litigation ramps up worldwide. As of May, there were more than 2,000 climate-related court cases in play globally - more than double the number filed in 2015, according to the London School of Economics.

An opinion from the court could also bolster a key demand by poor nations for a special U.N. "Loss and Damage" fund to compensate damages already being suffered in climate-related disasters, such as lands being lost to sea level rise or destruction caused by supercharged storms. Or it could “spur international litigation between states, or against states regarding compensation,” Hunter-Jones said.

The students hope their campaign can also inject new life into global climate negotiations that often feel intractable, with wealthy nations resisting ambitious emissions-cutting pledges while also failing to deliver financing to help developing countries through the energy transition, said Fijian law student Vishal Prasad.

They plan to keep up the pressure leading up to the next U.N. climate summit - COP27 - to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.

“Pacific Islanders, young people and all climate-vulnerable countries have so much to lose because of climate change,” Prasad said. And the world is “not moving as fast as we need to be” to prevent the worst of it.

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
El Salvador's Bitcoin Holdings Reach $350 Million
Teens Forming Friendships with AI Chatbots
WhatsApp Rolls Out Major Redesign
Neuralink's First Brain Implant Experiences Issue
Apple Unveils New iPad Pro with M4 Chip, Misleading AI Claims
OpenAI to Announce Google Search Competitor
Apple Apologizes for Controversial iPad Pro Ad Featuring Instrument Destruction
German politician of the AFD party, Marie-Thérèse Kaiser was just convicted & fined $6,000+
Changpeng Zhao Sentenced to Four Months in Jail
Biden Administration to Relax Marijuana Regulations
101-Year-Old Woman Mistaken for a Baby by American Airlines: Comical Mix-Up during Flight Check-in
King Charles and Camilla enjoying the Inuit voice singing performance in Canada.
New Study: Vaping May Lower Fertility in Women Trying to Get Pregnant
U.S. DOJ Seeks Three-Year Sentence for Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao
Headlines - Thursday, 23 April 2024
Illinois Woman Wins $45M Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson and Kenvue for Mesothelioma Linked to Baby Powder
Panama's lates news for Friday, April 19
Creative menu of a Pizza restaurant..
You can be a very successful player, but a player with character is another level!
Experience the Future of Dining: My Visit to an AI-Powered Burger Joint
Stabbing rampage terror attack in Sydney, at least four people killed, early reports that a baby was among those stabbed.
Iran fired more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel overnight. Israel Reports Light Damage After Iran Launches Large Strike.
I will never get enough of his videos and the pure joy and beauty of these women!!
Scientists at the University of Maryland have developed an "invisibility cloak", for AI using adversarial patterns on a sweater, making the wearer nearly undetectable to standard object detection methods.
Lamborghini Bids Farewell to Its Best-Selling Sports Car: The Huracán
Sam Bankman-Fried Appeals 25-Year Prison Sentence for $8bn FTX Fraud
OJ Simpson, ex-NFL star who was acquitted of murder, dies aged 76
British Backpacker Imprisoned in Notorious Bolivian Prison: Family Raises Funds for Legal Fight and Essentials
Argentina: Venezuela Cuts Power to Embassy after Opposition Meeting
El Salvador Offers 5,000 Passports to Skilled Foreign Workers: Tax-Free Relocation and Citizenship
Panama Papers Trial Begins: Founders of Mossack Fonseca Face Money-Laundering Charges
75 Becomes the New 65: Retiring in Your 60s Unrealistic as Life Expectancy Increases and Costs Rise
Total Solar Eclipse of 2021: 32 Million Witness the Mystical, $1.5bn Spectacle Sweep Across North America
New shopping experience…
New world, new reality, let’s get used to it
UK Company Passes Milestone in Developing Space-Based Solar Power, Aiming to Power a Million Homes and Provide Constant Energy
Mexico Breaks Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador after Police Storm Embassy, Arrest Former Vice President
Monty Python were so ahead of their time
If there's a will, there's a way!
Rules about how to dress are important, but not so much if you have a lot of money.
Body Armor Firm Showcases Stab-Proof Vest in Demo on CEO
Mexico Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Ecuador After Embassy Stormed in Quito
Here is a tattoo idea, for engineers
Zoraya Ter Beek, a 28-year-old woman from the Netherlands, will undergo euthanasia in May due to severe mental health challenges
Here's a video featuring Fidel Castro, where he discusses his stance against war and his commitment to preserving life, positions that have put him at odds with the USA:
Woman reaches behind and steals gun from a security guard and shoots three people while getting detained in Chile
Take a walk around the safe and thriving downtown San Salvador.
Joe Biden criticised by Trump campaign for declaring Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter Sunday
Macron says France will help Brazil develop nuclear-powered submarines
A video demonstrating women's self defense class in 1930
×