Thank you, Vanuatu!

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution proposed by the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu to seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on what legal obligations nations are under to protect climate systems and people affected by climate change.

Co-sponsored by 132 countries at the UN, a consensus adopted the resolution on Wednesday. The UN is now empowered to seek the ICJ’s opinion on countries’ legal obligations to protect current and future generations from climate change.

The UN resolution should make it easier to hold polluting countries legally accountable for failing to tackle the climate emergency in a vote which was hailed as a historic victory for climate justice.

“Today we have witnessed a win for climate justice of epic proportions,” said Ishmael Kalsakau, prime minister of Vanuatu. “Today’s historic resolution is the beginning of a new era in multilateral climate cooperation, one that is more fully focused on upholding the rule of international law and an era that places human rights and intergenerational equity at the forefront of climate decision-making.”