Friday 31 March 2023

The Netherlands signs up for Vanuatu climate change initiative

Photo: International Court of Justice

The Pacific republic of Vanuatu is leading a coalition of 105 nations, including the Netherlands, which are asking the International Court of Justice in The Hague for an advisory ruling on climate change.

The aim of the request is to ‘gain clarity on how existing international laws can be applied to strengthen action on climate change, protect people and the environment and save the Paris agreement,’  Vanuatu said in a statement.

Vanuatu is considered one of the most vulnerable places in the world when it comes to rising sea levels and is already making plans to move dozens of villages to higher ground.

The ICJ climate resolution will be tabled during the 77th session of the UN general assembly.

The Netherlands is among the supporters of the initiative. ‘More and more countries are involved in climate-based law suits,’ Dutch climate minister Rob Jetten said. ‘It is only right to be pro-active. This request for advice will make it clear what obligations countries have to tackle climate change under international law.’

The UN’s International Court of Justice is the only principal organ of the UN system that has not yet been given an opportunity to help address the climate crisis, Vanuatu said.


Last week a majority of Dutch MPs backed a motion calling for an ‘investigation’ into the way interest groups and private citizens are forcing the government to take action on climate change through the courts.

Court victories for citizens’ initiatives such as Urgenda and Mobilisation for the Environment (MOB) have been instrumental in making the government do more to combat climate change.

However, some argue that policy is being made in court rather than in parliament and that this should stop.

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