Climate justice beyond utopia

One of the most compelling consequences of the decolonization process that began in the last decades of the 20th century has been the increasingly steady entry of island nations into the United Nations (UN) system. They need their voices to be heard.

In accordance with the democratic spirit with which the UN General Assembly was established – one vote per delegation, without establishing privileges among the nations with the greatest economic, military and demographic weight – the demands of the archipelagos formed as states were raised in meetings. high levels related to the impact of migration, food security, equitable access to renewable energy and cyberspace, and climate change mitigation.

The international community has become aware of the extreme natural disasters that the Vanuatu archipelago is suffering from. Photo: UNICEF

While changes in the ecological balance due to anthropogenic causes of the post-industrial era have caused dire predictions for human life on the planet – with no mitigation for any specific habitat or specific societies – a more immediate and traumatic effect is predicted for the Small Island. Developing States (SIDS).

As part of this group of countries vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Cuba will become a matter of survival in the coming decades, such as rising ocean levels, loss of biodiversity, the spread of environmental migrants and deprivation of energy sources. Although priority has been given to the coastal communities of the Greater Antilles – thanks to access to so-called “climate funds” – and environmental education has been encouraged, the Caribbean archipelago is not immune to risks for those exposed in areas located at the forefront of the environmental crisis. that the planet is experiencing.

Considering these factors, it is not surprising that the proposal for a resolution put forward by the Republic of Vanuatu (12,189 km2 and a population of just under 300,000) has gained so much momentum in recent months that aims to improve the legal framework of the United States. Nations to achieve climate justice.

The islands that make up the Vanuatu archipelago, known as the New Hebrides, maintained the status of a Franco-British condominium between 1908 and 1980. The long-term presence of both colonial systems led to the division of their territory, which still persists after independence, due to teaching methods, language communities, and various legal procedures.

Its geographic location near the Coral Sea places it several hundred kilometers from the nearest inhabited regions: New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and the Australian state of Queensland.

The climate vulnerability of the oceanic archipelago has been confirmed since the late 1980s by the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). From that moment on, in the midst of neo-liberal politics, the Republic of Vanuatu has emphasized the dangers of global warming in international forums and demanded that these environmental issues be placed on multilateral agendas.

Even before the vote was taken on the Vanuatu draft resolution, which was supported in a vote on March 29, 2023 by more than a hundred states, this initiative generated full interest, going beyond the area of ​​small island developing States.

According to the report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Cycle, corresponding to the period 2015-2022, the vulnerabilities generated by climate change are becoming more obvious, while adaptation measures to these unforeseen circumstances are more mandatory and limited.

While the polar and tropical regions are most affected in this regard, the planet is experiencing certain manifestations of climate change that are present at any latitude or in all weather conditions, such as extreme temperatures, loss of ecosystems, and the systematic nature and intensity of catastrophes. natural.

The request, backed by the General Assembly, to bring the International Court of Justice (ICJ) into climate justice is one of the most unusual actions taken by a full member in three-quarters of a century of UN history.

That Vanuatu’s proposal grants the International Court of Justice consultative status on environmental matters – a decisive cornerstone for future international litigation – and that it provides legal implications for states that affect the climate balance – whether by deliberate action or omission – can be considered one Of the greatest victories in the diplomatic field, the SIDS achieved.

Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau’s speech at the UN Headquarters in New York was preceded by news of the impact of two Category 4 cyclones on Vanuatu in early 2023 for 72 hours.

The South Pacific archipelago has already topped the 2021 World Risk Report, which ranked the world’s countries with the highest vulnerability indices on issues such as social protection, forced migration, access to drinking water and environmental degradation.

This is why the support expressed by both Secretary General António Guterres and High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk has been so strong for the Republic of Vanuatu and its people.

That the ICJ is given advisory authority on environmental matters is an endorsement of planetary action to combat climate change, agreed by social movements, specialized agencies and regional organizations.

The climate justice that SIDS has been calling for for decades can be made possible by greater relevance, speed and fairness in environmental work. The fact that climate balance is inextricably linked to the protection of human rights is becoming increasingly important both in the field of civil society and in the field of international relations.

Source: Juventud Rebelde


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