RELEASE: PIF Secretariat Submits Written Statement to the International Court of Justice

Media Releases and News
23 March 2024

The Hague, March 22, 2024-- The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has submitted a written statement to the International Court of Justice* on the question of the Obligations of States in respect of Climate ChangeThis is the first time the Secretariat is participating in a proceeding of the World Court, whose seat is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).

The Secretariat was represented by Her Excellency Merewalesi Falemaka, Permanent Observer, Ambassador of the Pacific Islands Forum to the United Nations Office and Other International Organisations in Geneva, and International Legal Adviser, Mary Victoria Faasau.

As directed by Forum Members and guided by the Forum Specialist Sub-Committee on Sea-level rise in relation to International Law, the PIFS statement focuses on agreed Forum regional collective positions, to date, on the issue of climate change related sea-level rise.

Pacific nations are amongst the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and sea-level rise related to climate change is a real and pressing issue. Forum Leaders continue to reaffirm climate change, inclusive of sea-level rise caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, as the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security, and wellbeing of the people of the Pacific.


Two key PIF instruments cited in the statement are the “2021 Pacific Islands Forum Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise” and the “2023 Pacific Islands Forum Declaration on the  Continuity of Statehood and the Protection of Persons in the face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise”. 

The 2021 and 2023 PIF Declarations offer interpretation of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and relevant international law principles, as pertaining to the global phenomenon of climate change-related sea-level rise, and in pursuit of the protection of States, Peoples and individuals of present and future generations affected by the adverse effects of climate change.

In terms of next steps, States, and organisations, having presented written statements to the Court, may submit written comments on the other written statements by the deadline of 24 June 2024. The oral proceedings of the Court will be notified in due course.

*The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. It was established by the United Nations Charter in June 1945 and began its activities in April 1946. The Court is composed of 15 judges elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands). The Court has a twofold role: first, to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States; and, second, to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by duly authorized United Nations organs and agencies of the system. (