Climate Change and the Law: Sabin Center launches report on legal issues to be analyzed by International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is inviting all U.N. Member States to submit their views on the legal issues relevant to climate duties and obligations. To help States make these submissions, Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has just released its Status Report on Principles of International and Human Rights Law Relevant to Climate Change.

On March 29, 2023, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution from the Republic of Vanuatu requesting an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the obligations of States with respect to climate change. On April 25, 2023, the President of the Court set October 20, 2023 as the deadline for written statements on the questions presented to the Court. January 22, 2024 was set as the time limit within which States and organizations having presented written statements may submit written comments on the written statements made by other States or organizations.

The Status Report addresses (i) advisory proceedings before the ICJ, including the Court’s jurisdiction and procedure (Section II), and (ii) key legal principles relevant to the request for an advisory opinion, including principles of international environmental law and international human rights law (Section III). The report identified, in a non-exhaustive manner, key relevant principles of international environmental law, key relevant principles of international human rights law, and issues of intergenerational equities that apply to the questions posed to the ICJ.

The status report is part of the Youth Climate Justice Handbook, organized by the World’s Youth for Climate Justice and the Pacific Students Fighting Climate Change. The Handbook, which will be published in early May, consists of three parts: (1) the Summary for Policymakers, (2) the Legal Memorandum, and (3) the Status Report.

The Status Report was authored by Katelyn Horne (Arnold & Porter), Maria Antonia Tigre  (Sabin Center for Climate Change Law), and Michael Gerrard Sabin Center for Climate Change Law). Read the report here.

Global Climate Litigation Fellow at Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School | Website | + posts

Dr. Maria Antonia Tigre is the Global Climate Litigation Fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School.

Katelyn Horne
Senior Associate at Arnold & Porter | + posts

Katelyn Horne is a senior associate in the International Arbitration practice group at Arnold & Porter, and former Associate Legal Officer of the International Court of Justice.

Michael Gerrard
Faculty Director at Sabin Center for Climate Change Law | + posts

Michael Gerrard is Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice and founder and faculty director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.  He is former chair of the faculty of the Columbia Earth Institute and of the American Bar Association's Section of Environment, Energy and Resources. He practiced environmental law full-time in New York from 1979 to 2008, and has written or edited 14 books on environmental law.