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Daniëlla Dam-de Jong on Vanuatu resolution on addressing the climate crisis

Vanuatu, a Pacific island state vulnerable to rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms, initiated a resolution to be submitted to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday 29 March 2023.

What obligations do states have?

That resolution requests the International Court of Justice in The Hague (the UN's highest legal body) to advise on what obligations states have under international law to address the climate crisis, and what the legal consequences are if they fail to do so.
Daniëlla Dam-de Jong, professor of international sustainable development law at Leiden University, stated in the Volkskrant (dutch newspaper): 'The bottom line is that an opinion from the Court would embed the Paris Agreement in a broader legal framework, give it more legal force.'


If adopted, the resolution could become a gamechanger. It will then be important that the Court comes up with a strong opinion, says Dam-de Jong 'The worst outcome would be if that opinion is only based on further substantiation of the Paris Agreement. The best outcome is if the Court really addresses the interaction between that agreement and other obligations under international law, such as human rights. Does Paris stand alone, or is it part of the broader framework of international law?'

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