Vanuatu Prime Minister Bob Loughman has warned that the survival of the Pacific is in peril if the world’s biggest polluters continue to put profit over people and planet, in Suva overnight.
Prime Minister Loughman made the remarks at the launch event for a powerful coalition of civil society groups who have come together to support the Government of Vanuatu’s push to seek an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on climate change and human rights.
“We who have contributed the least to carbon pollution continue to bear the greatest burden. The climate crisis is heart-wrenching. The climate crisis is a moral crisis, a crisis of conscience. The climate crisis is either a willful ignorance of the scientific evidence or a heartless, unprovoked and unjustified aggression by fossil fuel interests against our present and future generations and against our planet. The climate crisis is a human rights crisis,” Mr Loughman said.
Vanuatu is seeking to integrate human rights law into the way that the world, and individual nations, respond to and act on climate change, aiming to:
- Integrate separate areas of international law, such as human rights law and environmental law;
- Provide impetus and authority for more ambitious action under the Paris Agreement to fulfil existing human rights obligations;
- Cement consensus on the scientific evidence of climate change; and
- Help inform international and domestic law to clarify the obligations of states in protecting human rights.
Prime Minister Loughman said the court process is about inspiring the world to greater climate ambition, rather than laying blame at the feet of individual nations.
“This is a campaign for the world’s most vulnerable for all of humanity and our collective future,” he said.
“This is a campaign about what we must save, not what has been lost. This is a campaign to build ambition, not division. This is a campaign to uplift the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is a campaign for the young generations’ call for justice to the world’s highest court.”
Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change Campaign Director, Solomon Yeo, said “The ICJAO campaign presents a grand opportunity for the Pacific to use another tool from our toolbelt in our collective fight for climate justice. We Pacific Islanders are one of the world’s most outstanding storytellers and the ICJ presents the perfect platform where we can amplify the stories on how people and the planet are more valuable than greed and profit to help inform the Court in giving their sacred advice to accelerate our global fight for climate justice.”
The Regional Policy Coordinator for the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, Lavetanalagi Seru, said that an advisory opinion is essential.
“The greatest injustice of our time is that millions of people continue to suffer, their human rights undermined, and life impoverished, as a result of climate inaction and the lack of political will from our leaders.
“This campaign to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice is critical to frontline climate affected communities, ensuring that every climate action and initiatives by our Governments are grounded on the principles of human rights, justice, and intergenerational equity.”
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate Justice Campaigner Justin Rose said that climate change is already causing a human rights crisis.
“Livelihoods, healthcare and the environment are already being severely impacted, perhaps nowhere more so than in the Pacific. Evidence presented by vulnerable countries to the International Court of Justice will prove beyond doubt that climate change is affecting people’s human rights and create legal clarity on how to address it,” he said.
“An advisory opinion would carry great legal weight and encourage countries to look at climate change through a human rights lens.”