Michael Lam Ching Wang, Prosecuting Ecocide via a New International Environmental Criminal Court, LSE LAW REVIEW BLOG (Jan. 31, 2021)
Inspired by the Independent Expert Panel’s proposal, this article advocates for establishing a new International Environmental Criminal Court (IECC) specifically for adjudicating ecocide cases and assesses the benefits and limitations of such a court. Lam Ching Wang explains that an IECC would be preferred to an amendment to the Rome Statute because amendments to the Rome Statute require a two-thirds majority and a new court could be set up with a lower ratification threshold. In addition, the IECC could have features, like corporate liability, that would allow it to combat ecocide more effectively. The IECC Convention could provide for the parent corporation to be held liable when it fails to reasonably prevent its subsidiaries from committing ecocide, or when it has substantial control over the subsidiaries whose conduct would be attributable to the parent. Penalties imposed on the corporate entity itself, such as confiscation of assets, closure of the corporation’s establishments or even corporate dissolution, would more likely stimulate an overall change of corporate policies and deter problematic corporate practices than penalties imposed on individuals, especially when the environmental harm is created by an overall policy, system or decision-making process. Lastly, Lam Ching Wang notes that ecocide’s ecocentric nature and lower mens rea threshold make it “inconsistent with the Rome Statute,” and would particularly justify the establishment of an IECC.