Senior Associate Justice Leonen Calls on the Philippine Government and UP Community to Intervene in ICJ Case on Climate Change
August 9, 2023
“If we are to remain true to our advocacy for climate justice, being one of the states that stand to be most affected, and also because of the skills we have as lawyers and public rights advocates, we need to intervene in this pending ICJ (International Court of Justice) case for an advisory opinion on climate change.”
Thus, said Senior Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen in his message as the Guest of Honor at the 2023 Recognition Rites of the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG) held on July 28, 2023 at the Cine Adarna, UPFI Film Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.
According to Senior Associate Justice Leonen, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted earlier this year a resolution requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding states’ obligations on climate change. Later consultations with UN officials further refined the draft into the present resolution, which later gained the support of other states.
Senior Associate Justice Leonen shared that in the resolution, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was asked to give its opinion on the legal consequences of states’ “acts and omissions” which have affected the climate system. This was in the context of the injury that small island developing nations face due to the adverse effects of climate change. The opinion from the ICJ is also supposed to refresh the commitment of states under international law to protect the climate system.
He thus challenged the Philippine government, UP community, the UP NCPAG, as well as the UP College of Law, “to become the active public intellectuals that they are to provide our government with the needed draft for an intervention: You are well placed to craft an interdisciplinary pleading. You are well placed to organize and mobilize. Become the iskolar ng bayan that you are meant to be.”
Senior Associate Justice Leonen highlighted the climate crisis that the world is currently facing, especially in our country. He pointed out, “[i]n the Philippines, communities are continuously ravaged by the detrimental effects of climate change. We are a nation whose geographical location has made us vulnerable to natural disasters. As an archipelago, we are often found in the path of typhoons and are prone to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis. We are reliant on agriculture and fisheries, to which we must consider the impact of natural disasters both on the livelihoods of our farmers and fisherfolk, and on our own survival as a nation.”
Senior Associate Justice Leonen thus called on the NCPAG graduates to engage in issues surrounding the climate crisis and our democracy. He turned the spotlight on the reality that, “[a]ctual people have lost their livelihoods, homes, and loved ones because of the continuing climate crisis, and it is in their best interests that we must act,” adding that “we can only imagine a future in which this becomes the norm, but it is slowly becoming our reality now, and the fact of the matter is that we must act on it before it is too late.” (Courtesy of the Public Information Office)