As vice-president of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Vietnam’s permanent representative to the UN, on Wednesday chaired its discussion and voted on a landmark resolution seeking the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) action to clarify the obligations of states to tackle climate change.
The resolution was passed with a consensus vote. It was co-sponsored by 132 out of 193 UN member states, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Historic” resolution on climate change
The fact that this resolution was passed demonstrates the tremendous support of the international community toward climate change, which is among the most urgent and widely discussed issues in many international and regional forums.
|A general view of a UN General Assembly session to pass a resolution seeking the top global court’s action to clarify the obligations of states to tackle climate change. Photo: Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the UN|
Giang said that the UN General Assembly asked ICJ to give its stances on two issues linked to climate change, including defining the obligations of states under international law to protect the environment against climate change and legal responsibilities of nations that have caused negative impacts of climate change on many other countries, as well as on the present and future generations.
Given this resolution being approved, this is the first time that ICJ has aired its legal opinion on climate change.
The Guardian cited Ishmael Kalsakau, prime minister of Vanuatu, as saying: “Today we have witnessed a win for climate justice of epic proportions.
“Today’s historic resolution is the beginning of a new era in multilateral climate cooperation,” he continued.
Resolution incorporates many contributions from Vietnam
The resolution was put forward by the Republic of Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific, and a core group of 18 countries, including Vietnam.
A number of UN member states joined this core group in order to voice their opinions and jointly take actions to get their mutual concerns addressed. The core group seeking the ICJ’s advisory opinions on climate change comprises 18 countries that represent all geographical regions in the world.
|Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang (C), Vietnam’s permanent representative to the UN, talks to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Photo: Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the UN|
As one of the first five members of the core group, Vietnam has been actively promoting the process of making the draft resolution through close to 50 meetings of the group since September last year, in addition to three rounds of consultations with all UN member states and many other unofficial meetings, Giang said.
Many opinions of Vietnam on the issue were included in the resolution, he continued.
Clarifying obligations of largest emitters of greenhouse gasses
“In essence, the ICJ advisory will help establish whether there is legal obligation for countries to do what they have committed to in non-binding treaties such as the 2015 Paris climate accord, and whether failure to do so can be challenged through litigation”, The Guardian says.
Giang said that if the ICJ advisory could help clarify the responsibilities and obligations of countries, the international community would be able to take more drastic moves in the upcoming period to curtail the negative impacts of climate change and help countries build better resilience against climate effects.
As one of the principal organs of the UN, the ICJ’s role is to settle legal disputes among countries and to give advisory opinions on legal questions linked to issues of mutual concerns.
Only the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council are authorized to ask the ICJ’s advisory opinions on all legal issues.
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