Frédéric Mégret, The Problem of an International Criminal Law of the Environment, 36(2) Colum. J. Envtl. L. 195–257 (2011)

Drawing on the impetus for a new international crime of “ecocide,” Professor Mégret argues that developing an international criminal law of the environment is conceivable “as long as it is a carefully crafted response to the very specific set of international issues.” To explain why the process has been so protracted, he begins by discussing the limitations, citing states’ attachment to sovereignty, jurisdiction over environmental harms, regulatory challenges and determining criminal liability.  Despite these difficulties, Prof. Mégret presents arguments in favor of international criminalization of environmental harms, anticipating their “greater international punishment . . . in the medium term.” Among the “most promising” arguments, he cites the environment’s “strong association with human rights,” also a driving force behind international criminal law’s growth.  He envisions the development of an international environmental criminal law as complementing international environmental law while enriching international criminal law. Prof. Mégret concludes by noting a paradox of international criminal law’s rise: it is both expressive and constitutive of the international community’s beliefs. “[A]n international society that would criminalize grave attacks on the environment would fundamentally affirm itself as a society defined, at least in part, by its aspiration to protect its environment.”

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