Sean Fleming, What is Ecocide and can it be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, World Economic Forum (July 1, 2021)
A panel of criminal and environmental lawyers from around the world has created a legal definition for ‘ecocide’ as the basis of a push to criminalize mass damage and destruction of ecosystems. The definition will be made available for states to consider and is part of an ongoing effort by NGO Stop Ecocide to add environmental damage to the list of international crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC). This would create an arrestable offence for anyone committing ecocide, and would make individuals responsible for acts or decisions that cause severe damage to the environment liable for criminal prosecution. Currently, companies found to have caused environmental harm are largely punished though fines or suing. If the ICC backs the suggestion, however, it might be many years before ecocide joins the four existing international crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction. Those four existing crimes are: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of aggression (i.e., one state or country attacking or threatening another). All four are concerned with the harms done to people through the actions of states or their representatives.