Krishnee A Appadoo, The link between ecocide and environmental justice: a study of SIDS and Latin American countries (2023)

As the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change are becoming increasingly visible, it is undeniable that global South countries, especially Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are bearing most of the brunt of the environmental crisis. As stewards of the environment, we have the responsibility to protect our natural world from anthropogenic climate change, the rapid extinction of species, annihilation of habitats, and ecological collapse. However, despite the existence of a wide range of international agreements which are meant to safeguard the natural environment, it is disappointing to note that our planet is reeling from an ecological malaise. It therefore becomes fundamental to make those responsible for destroying our Earth legally accountable for their actions. This can be achieved through the leverage of international criminal law. Weisberg (1970) was the first one to coin the term “ecocide” and he defined it as “the wilful destruction of the environment”. From being applied to describe the massive environmental destruction caused by the US during the Vietnam War, to the Russian attacks on Ukrainian nuclear facilities, as well as oil extraction in Canada and mining in Venezuela, the term ecocide is gaining traction as a potential tool to not only persecute those who wreak havoc against our planet, but also to deter the commission of environmental harm. The purpose of this research will be to study the link between the potential crime of ecocide and environmental justice. To achieve this, the study will focus on how the proposed amendment to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) could be used to effectively prosecute those responsible for deliberate environmental degradation in the global South. For the purposes of this study, the author will focus on the impact of the introduction of the crime of ecocide vis- à -vis SIDS and Latin American countries.