History

1970 First coining of the term ‘ecocide’

First coining of the term ‘ecocide’ by Professor Arthur W. Galston. Professor Galston coined ‘ecocide’ at the Conference on War and National Responsibility in Washington, where he also proposed a new international agreement to ban ecocide. Galston was a US biologist who identified the defoliant effects of a chemical later developed into Agent Orange. Subsequently a bioethicist, he was the first in 1970 to characterise massive damage and destruction of ecosystems as ecocide.

1972: Reference to events occurring in Vietnam War as ‘ecocide’ by the Prime Minister of Sweden

Reference to events occurring in Vietnam War as ‘ecocide’ by the Prime Minister of Sweden. In his opening speech at the United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment (which adopted the Stockholm Declaration), Prime Minister Olof Palme referred to the Vietnam war as ecocide. Ecocide was also discussed in the unofficial events running parallel to the official conference. However, there was no mention of ecocide in the official outcome document of the Stockholm conference.

1973: Richard Falk proposes an International Convention on the Crime of Ecocide

Professor Richard Falk proposes an International Convention on the Crime of Ecocide, in an article published by the Revue Belge de Droit International. He is one of the first to formally outline a definition for ‘ecocide’.

1978: UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities proposes adding ‘ecocide’ to the Genocide Convention

UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities proposes adding ‘ecocide’ to the Genocide Convention. The Sub-Commission prepared a study (pp 128-134) for the UN Human Rights Commission discussing the effectiveness of the Genocide Convention, proposing the addition of ecocide, as well as the reintroduction of cultural genocide, to the list of prohibited acts.

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