United Nations member countries passed a "historic" resolution Wednesday to have its highest court weigh in on whether countries around the world are obligated to address climate change.
The resolution adopted by consensus at the U.N.'s General Assembly was put forward by the cyclone-battered Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu and supported by a core group of 17 countries in different regions of the world, according to a U.N. alert. Vanuatu Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau called the move "a win for climate justice of epic proportions," the alert said.
An opinion from the International Court of Justice, known informally as the world court, is not legally binding, but does "carry legal authority and moral weight," the alert said.
"If and when given, such an opinion would assist the General Assembly, the U.N. and Member States, to take the bolder and stronger climate action that our world so desperately needs," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said.
The resolution calls for the court to address countries' obligations to curb global warming and to protect communities most affected by climate change. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in the alert that even an advisory opinion from the court "could be an important catalyst for the urgent, ambitious, and equitable climate action that is needed to stop global heating and to limit and remediate climate-induced human rights harms."