First ICJ Submission Writeshop underway

Group Photo First ICJ Submissions

Vanuatu and other Pacific Island Countries and territories are convening in Fiji for the first International Court of Justice (ICJ) Submission Writeshop.

Attorney Generals (AGs) and legal office representatives from Vanuatu, Fiji, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu are participating in this historic ICJ Submission Writeshop.

Vanuatu’s AG Arnold Kiel Loughman, as the main lead of the Writeshop and ICJ work said this Writeshop is one of its kind as it gathers all the AGs and legal officers from the region to work on national submissions to the ICJ.

“We want to make sure the views and opinions of each government of the region is heard by the ICJ in relation to this advisory opinion towards climate change,” he said in a statement from the Pacific Community (SPC).

He highlighted the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have barriers when it comes to making submissions to the ICJ.

“We recognise that climate change is one of the existential threats facing us today that is why it is very important that we come together. We cannot do this individually. We must come together as a group and address this.”

He said Pacific SIDS have barriers when it comes to making submissions to the ICJ. However, he said the Pacific got together in phase 1 and passed the resolution with 132 strong vote and coalition.

“I think we take that same commitment we can take to phase 2 of this work as we prepare the Pacific submissions to the ICJ,” he said.

Fiji’s AG Siromi Turaga, who opened the Regional ICJ Writeshop said: “Where the Pacific goes in relation to addressing the imminent threat of climate change, or lack thereof, is where the rest of the world will follow. If the global community does not stand together to curb the threat of greenhouse gas emissions, SIDS will bear the brunt of extreme weather events.”

He stressed that the region is at the frontlines of some of the worst outcomes from the climate crisis, thus it must not shy away from demanding climate justice for all.

The Writeshop is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Governments of Australia and Sweden, and serves as a platform for legal experts, government officials, and stakeholders to come together and engage in collaborative legal drafting processes for national submissions to the ICJ.

Acting Deputy High Commissioner from Australia, Andrew Shepard, commended the Pacific’s leadership in initiating the resolution. He added that the widespread support for the resolution indicates a shared responsibility among all states to take action on climate change.

“The Pacific family is connected by strong, long-standing ties and the Australian government will continue to support a strong Pacific voice in global discussions on climate change in both regional and UN institutions. And it is by working together as a Pacific family, we can tackle our shared challenges,” Mr. Shepard said.

Senior Development Advisor for USAID, Michael Glees, reiterated the words of Turaga that the fate of the Pacific nations rests on climate justice outcomes.

“That is what I hope to see, that justice comes through for the Pacific when it comes to climate change in the international court,” Glees added.

Erica Villborg from the government of Sweden shared, “The links between environmentally and climate-resilient sustainable development and human rights, democracy and the rule of law are clear – especially for people in vulnerable situations and people living in poverty. Climate change knows no boarders, which implies that international cooperation is crucial.”

Director of the Human Rights and Social Development Division of SPC, Miles Young, said “SPC is humbled to be contributing to this Write Shop in preparation for the upcoming ICJ climate change advisory opinion proceedings, and we thank the Government of Vanuatu in particular and SPC membership more broadly, for affording us the opportunity to do so.”

“And through this ICJ initiative, Vanuatu and the Pacific will not just seek to spur transformative climate action and protect the environment for present and future generations in line with the climate change ambitions under the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific, but also reinforce the region as a global leader in the human rights and climate change nexus.”


By Anita Roberts

(Daily Post.Vu)