Thomas Obel Hansen, Accountability for Environmental Crimes in Conflict Zones: Why Expanding the International Criminal Court’s Jurisdiction Is not the Best Solution. New York University Journal of International Law and Politics (JILP) (Forthcoming) (July 2023)
This Article seeks to understand options and challenges to achieve accountability for environmental crimes in conflict zones. It takes the starting point in asking if recently made suggestions for expanding accountability for environmental crimes at ICC level are likely to be adopted and effectively enforced – and if not, what are the alternative avenues for advancement of accountability for environmental crimes in conflict zones. The main argument set out in the Article is that the ICC is likely to achieve operational success when it operates in line with the interests of key players in the so-called ‘rules-based international order’ (RBO). The Article argues that whenever the ICC seeks to transcend the boundaries set by that system and/or directly challenges key individual members of it, the Court inevitably runs into major challenges, resulting that it is corrected and hence faces significant challenges producing accountability outcomes. This, the Article suggests, creates profound obstacles for the ICC to meaningfully advance accountability for environmental crimes in conflict zones exactly because the most serious of these crimes frequently implicate actors with a link to the RBO. Though also regularly facing significant challenges when challenging powerful interests, national jurisdictions are for reasons set out in the Article arguably better placed to produce comprehensive accountability outcomes for these types of crimes. Accordingly, this Article offers a novel perspective by focusing the analysis on the broader structures and systemic issues affecting the ability of the ICC and national courts to deliver accountability outcomes for environmental crimes.