On Wednesday 29 March, 2023, the UN General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution by consensus. This resolution, A/77/L.58, concerns a request for an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, in pursuit of ‘bolder’ climate action regarding countries’ obligations to address climate change and human rights obligations stemming from international law.
UNGA Resolution A/77/L.58
The Resolution was submitted by the Pacific Island Vanuatu, a 'core group' of 17 countries and youth activists. The resolution was co-sponsored by more than 130 countries. The island Vanuatu, like many other small island states, is highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. This resolution is important for vulnerable groups all over the world who are suffering because of climate change. Hon Jotham Napat, Vanuatu's Minister of Foreign Affairs stated: “For the present and future generations of Vanuatu, and vulnerable people globally in every nation from North to South, Developed to Developing, it is time for States and corporations to uphold their legal obligations and the rule of international law relevant to climate change.”
Advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice are not legally binding but they carry "great legal weight and moral authority" and contribute to the elucidation and evolution of international law and as such they help to strengthen peaceful relations between States. In this regard, the UN Secretary-General remarked that Advisory opinions of the United Nations Court have tremendous importance and can have a long-standing impact on the international legal order. Advisory opinions can provide clarification on existing international legal obligations and guide the actions and conduct of States in their relations with each other, as well as towards their own citizens. Climate justice is "both a moral imperative and a prerequisite for effective global climate action", but "festering climate injustice feeds divisions and threatens to paralyze global climate action". Only through cooperation between peoples, cultures, nations and generations, the climate crisis can only be overcome, the Secretary-General stated.
Vanuatu's Minister of Climate Change, Hon Ralph Regenvanu said: "We believe that this Resolution will help save the Paris Agreement as its preamble makes it clear that all States ‘should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights’. We are asking for clarification from the ICJ on exactly these State obligations."
An Advisory Opinion of the World Court on climate change issues could offer an opportunity to clarify the legal obligations of States regarding climate change as, for example, stemming from the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It would also help to advance climate action, intergenerational climate justice and human rights matters. Furthermore, emphasizing obligations of states helps to ensure the right to a healthy and sustainable environment for all.
A Selective Bibliography
Every year the Hague Academy of International Law organizes a Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations. For the researchers of the Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations of the Hague Academy of International Law, Eveline van Trigt, jurist and a senior foreign, comparative, and international law librarian of the Peace Palace Library, has compiled a bibliography about Climate Change and the Testing of International Law.
The directors of research for the Online Centre programme of 2022 are Prof. Jacqueline Peel (University of Melbourne Law School) and Prof. Sandrine Maljean-Dubois (Aix-Marseille University).The Bibliography has also been added to the Research Guide about the Environment.
Initially prepared for the Centre 2022, this bibliography is now being updated in the context of this UN resolution. It deals with several aspects of climate change and international law and specific topics related to climate change, such as migration, human rights, peace and security, geoengineering, the disappearance of island states, state responsibility, climate finance, the Paris Agreement, just to name a few. This bibliography consists of three parts. The first two parts consist of 12 chapters each and the third part deals both with climate change and international law in general and with the Paris Agreement (3.1), and a new chapter has been added (3.2). This chapter is still under construction. This chapter is concerned with international adjudication and international climate change law.
The bibliography has been compiled from several sources. It concerns both digital and printed materials from the Peace Palace Library and several (legal) sources from the internet. Such as: legal databases, research articles, legal blogs, repositories, webinars, and other relevant sources.
Please note that several online publications in this Bibliography are part of our collection, but these have not been added to our catalogue (yet). The Bibliography will be updated regularly.
If you are a PPL membership card holder, you can access all the online bibliographic content by logging in to your Peace Palace Library account on the website of the Peace Palace Library. In case you have any problems with access to online databases, digital books, or articles, please ask for assistance at the Reading Room desk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Become a member of the Peace Palace Library
If you would like to become a member of the Peace Palace Library, please click here. Please note that consultation of digital resources for which the Peace Palace Library supplies, the authentication is limited to personal research. All usage for business and commercial goals is strictly forbidden.
The Hague Academy of International Law
- The Hague Academy of International Law
- The Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations
- Climate Change - UN
- UNGA Resolution A/77/L.58 - Request for an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Obligations of States in Respect of Climate Change, 29 March, 2023 - UN
- Secretary-General's remarks to the General Assembly on the request of an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Obligations of States in Respect of Climate Change [as delivered], 29 March, 2023 - UN
- General Assembly Votes to Seek World Court’s Opinion, in Quest for ‘Bolder’ Climate Action , 29 March, 2023 - UN
- International Court of Justice - UN
Vanuatu ICJ Initiative