Clémentine Dècle-Classen, Ecocide and the End of the Anthropocene: An Ecocentric Critique of the (Failed) Developments of an International Crime of Ecocide, International Crimes Database Brief 28 (August 2023)

Modern international law was primarily designed to legitimise the domination and subordination of nondominant humans, non-human animals, and ecosystems, to a certain type of human being – Western white civilised men. Scholars criticise the present stage of international law as too anthropocentric,
hindering its capacity to criminalise ecocide. I argue this notion of anthropocentrism is rooted in a Eurocentric conception of the anthropos. Accordingly, an ecocentric approach on criminalising ecocide is of fundamental importance to address all forms of injustice, both inter- and intra-species related.

While provisions on genocide and crimes against humanity might bring charges for ecocide, although none explicitly criminalises severe environmental damage, this is insufficient from an ecocentric lens to ensure effective prevention and prosecution of many forms of ecocide. This paper concludes that the Anthropocene discourse must be changed to acknowledge and address the roots of the current socio-environmental crisis. In an international legal system rooted in a Eurocentric-anthropocentric conception of the world, criminalising ecocide — during times of peace and times of war — will be unlikely to result in the prosecution of various, yet crucial, forms of ecocide. Beyond ecocide, redefining various areas of international law in an ecocentric manner is needed for systemic change.