Okwezuzu, G. E. “Revivification of Legal Efforts to Criminalize Ecocide in International Law: Emerging Trend.” National Law School Journal, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, Vol. 13, pp. 52-72. (2016)
In this paper, the evolution of ecocide as a crime and its status in international law and national jurisdictions is examined. The author proposes criminalizing ecocide as an effective measure to combat worldwide environmental destruction. He argues that there are currently no adequate mechanisms in place to effectively protect nature and thus our and future generations.
Ecocide was originally part of the draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind, the precursor of the Rome Statute. However, the inclusion of environmental crime was eventually withdrawn due to the opposition of powerful states (which are largely responsible for ecocide).
However, in the last years, the campaign to include the crime of ecocide as the fifth international crime against peace in the Rome Statute has been renewed, arguing that resource depletion inevitably leads to wars. As part of the Rome Statute, ecocide would be under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and it would be possible to prosecute environmental destructions such as the 10 prominent examples listed in the paper.
While ecocide is not criminalized in international law, 10 states have recognized ecocide as a crime in their national jurisdiction. The author analyses these provisions in the respective penal/criminal codes and highlights the fact that none includes “a test of intent”, making ecocide a crime of strict liability. The paper examines the importance of codifying ecocide as a crime of strict liability as it prevents individuals and companies from denying responsibility for environmental destruction. The author appeals to the international community as well as all states who are yet to criminalize ecocide to enact and codify ecocide as law.