Juan José Guzmán, Valeria Napoli, Michelle Reyes Milk, Alison Smith and Camilla Taddei, Ecocide Law: A Call for Ecocentrism and Inclusion of All Relevant Voices Within Codification Efforts.
The past few years have seen significant progress in the discussions surrounding the codification of an international crime of ecocide. One concrete evidence of this is the definition put forward in June 2022 by the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide, which provided an important starting point for the codification efforts ahead.
The panel’s proposed definition has given way to important input and constructive criticism from a wide range of actors- including civil society and academia. We believe, indeed, that the most appropriate forum for the prosecution of ecocide is the International Criminal Court, for a number of reasons. This must be an effort which drives us to work together towards a definition that can be included within the Rome Statute.
In this paper, we will address the need for states parties to adopt an ecocentric approach when reflecting on the elements of this crime. Like no other international crime, ecocide warrants an ecocentric approach away from the traditional anthropocentric approach that has guided the codification of other crimes. This translates into a crime that is committed beyond direct human harm, that constitutes serious environmental damage. This requires a shift in perceptions, a new understanding in humanity’s relationship with nature; a new paradigm in the interrelation between nature and human livelihood.
This approach also entails the need to bring all relevant voices into the table. We therefore not only underline the need to consult with indigenous communities, the custodians of the land, as well as other key stakeholders during discussions geared at codification of this crime. We argue that international law provides an important basis for the obligation to ensure this participation, on the basis of the right to be consulted. Lastly, we also argue that through incorporating the perceptions and experiences of these key stakeholders, we can envision a true development of international law.