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In Landmark Vote, U.N. General Assembly Asks for World Court’s Opinion on Climate Crisis

HeadlineMar 30, 2023

The United Nations has adopted a landmark resolution that seeks to hold countries accountable for failing to respond to the climate crisis, while protecting more vulnerable nations. On Wednesday, the General Assembly voted on a measure calling on the International Court of Justice to establish obligations under international law for nations to protect their populations from the impacts of global heating. The resolution was introduced by the low-lying Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu, which the U.N. has described as the nation most vulnerable to natural disasters. Its adoption comes a month after Vanuatu was hit by two powerful tropical cyclones. This is Cynthia Houniuhi of the Solomon Islands, one of 27 students from eight Pacific Island countries who launched the campaign for the resolution. 

Cynthia Houniuhi: “It’s amazing to see and humbling to see how this wild idea that we had, you know, four years ago make its way from our classroom in the University of the South Pacific to the table or the floor of the United Nations General Assembly, and to receive such a historic U.N. vote. You know, they vote by consensus. So, that is — I still can’t believe it’s happened.”

The United States did not support the resolution. A senior Biden administration official told Reuters, “We believe that diplomacy — not an international judicial process — is the most effective path forward.”

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