It is not as conspicuous and repugnant as a death camp, but its power of mass destruction, if left unchecked, would strike the lives of hundreds of millions of people. A movement to outlaw it, too, is gaining momentum. That crime is called ecocide.
Genocide, war crimes and … ecocide?
In the last few years, the ecocide movement has gained momentum. A few smaller island states, Vanuatu and the Maldives, have called on the world community to recognize ecocide as an international crime, and the topic has been on the political agenda in countries such as Belgium, Brazil, France, Britain and Sweden.
The need to recognise ecocide as an international crime also appears to be more pertinent in the Anthropocene epoch. A sixth mass extinction is unfolding worldwide. Climate reports, such as those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, show that human activity is aggravating and accelerating climate change.
An expert panel brought together by the Stop Ecocide Foundation proposed last June to amend the statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and include ecocide alongside other international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
To save our planet, we need to criminalise ecocide
If ecocide were to be criminalised, we could not only punish mass polluters for the damage they cause, but also prevent the advent of new fossil fuel companies and projects.
Why it’s time to make ecocide a crime: for the sake of its victims
In November, the world’s first global citizens’ assembly – made up of 100 people chosen by lottery from around the world – declared its recommended responses to the climate crisis at the UN climate conference COP26. Among these recommendations was that causing severe environmental destruction, or “ecocide”, should become a crime.
A Plea to Make Widespread Environmental Damage an International Crime Takes Center Stage at The Hague
The campaign to make ecocide an international crime took center stage in the Hague on Tuesday as Bangladesh, Samoa and Vanuatu advocated criminalizing environmental destruction during a virtual forum at the annual meeting of the International Criminal Court’s 123 member nations.
Climate crisis: claim at ICC to end impunity for destruction of the Amazon
COP26 has refocused the world’s attention on climate action. And the continuing flurry of litigation suggests citizens are now more serious than ever about pressing those in positions of power to address the climate crisis. Two weeks before COP26, a small NGO was already taking matters into its own hands, filing a claim at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to end impunity for environmental destruction in the Amazon.
The British lawyer and author has held Nazis and presidents accountable for crossing the moral red line. Now, he argues, the time has come to pursue those who commit crimes against the environment.
The idea of ecocide is a cri de coeur for repair and reparation, against all odds. Inside Climate News, in partnership with NBC and Undark, report on the moral and legal case for accountability.
Making ecocide an international crime is long overdue
Substantive international laws were formed in the wake of two world wars, but nothing similar has been born out of the continuing ecocidal war against the planet. Yet laws and legal action are the most effective way to deter wrongdoing and spark behavioural change.
The movement to have ecocide recognised as an international crime has gained huge momentum in recent months, according to Jojo Mehta, executive director of Stop Ecocide International.
What it means if ‘ecocide’ becomes an international crime
Perhaps the most powerful effect of defining and criminalizing ecocide as an international crime may be that of beginning to shift cultural and moral assumptions. Our understanding of our place in, and responsibility towards, the natural world is in dire need of a reality check.
The late barrister, who passed away after a short battle with cancer in 2019, gave up a successful law practice in order to pursue the campaign for “ecocide” to be recognised as a crime by international courts – and now her decade-long dream is achingly close to becoming reality.
As proliferating disasters starkly demonstrate, severe damage to the environment is a crime against everyone. Rather than leave it to regulation by individual states, the International Criminal Court should recognize “ecocide” as an international crime.
200 words to save the planet – the crime of ecocide
Last month, a panel of international lawyers chaired by Philippe Sands and Dior Fall Sow launched our proposal for a new crime of ‘ecocide’ – an international crime of environmental destruction that would sit alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression at the International Criminal Court.
What It Means If ‘Ecocide’ Becomes an International Crime
“Bit by bit, with each felled forest, polluted river system, species extinction, oil spill, toxic waste leak, nuclear or mining disaster, we are committing ecocide. Relentlessly, and with startling rapidity, we are killing our home — while exacerbating social injustice, racial inequality and resource conflict along the way.
How do we protect the planet from destruction? Make ‘ecocide’ a crime
The term “ecocide” is broadly understood as mass damage and destruction of ecosystems. The global conversation around it – and in particular the conversation around criminalising it – is growing fast.
What is ecocide and can it be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court?
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.
From oil spills to open-pit mining, clear-cut logging to heavy-net trawling, humans continue to scar the planet despite mountains of legislation, regulation and good intent. Some environmental lawyers want to make destruction of an ecosystem an international crime — “ecocide” — on par with genocide or war crimes.
Recognition of ecocide as an international crime gets support In the European Parliament
An expert panel brought together by the Stop Ecocide Foundation proposed this week to amend the statutes of the International Criminal Court and include ecocide alongside other international crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Legal experts from across the globe have drawn up a “historic” definition of ecocide, intended to be adopted by the International Criminal Court to prosecute the most egregious offences against the environment.
Approving the right definition could pave the way for acts of environmental destruction to be prosecuted and condemned by the International Criminal Court, under the same consideration as war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocides and aggression.
After six months of deliberation, a team of international lawyers has unveiled a new legal definition of “ecocide” that, if adopted, would put environmental destruction on a par with war crimes – paving the way for the prosecution of world leaders and corporate chiefs for the worst attacks on nature.
An international team of lawyers co-chaired by Philippe Sands QC and Dior Fall Sow has presented the outcome of its work announced in November last year to develop a legal definition of ecocide. This is a crucial step towards adding ecocide to the list of other major offences recognised by the international criminal court (ICC), including crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
Legal experts from across the globe have drawn up a “historic” definition of ecocide, intended to be adopted by the international criminal court to prosecute the most egregious offences against the environment.
Powerful individuals behind the most devastating assaults on the environment could be put in the dock under a new legal definition of “ecocide” that a heavyweight panel of international lawyers and hardened campaigners hope will revolutionise the fight against the climate crisis.
Lawyers will take a major step this month toward putting environmental destruction on the same level as war crimes and genocide.
Campaigners hope the threat of being hauled before the court scares politicians and executives into changing their behaviour.
International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.
A growing movement wants destruction of the environment to be treated like genocide and crimes against humanity.
Lawyers Are Working to Put ‘Ecocide’ on a Par with War Crimes. Could an International Law Hold Major Polluters to Account?
How a proposed amendment to international human rights law could prohibit the systematic destruction of nature. “Nothing concentrates the mind better than the prospect of an individual being found criminally liable” – Philippe Sands
“A CEO doesn’t want to be seen in the same bracket as a war criminal,” says Jojo Mehta of the Stop Ecocide campaign. This month a panel of top international and environmental lawyers from around the world begin drafting a legal definition of ecocide, with the goal of having it included on the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague in the coming years.
A panel of leading lawyers has been set up to draft a legal definition of ’ecocide’ as a potential international crime that could sit alongside war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The concept would criminalise mass damage and destruction of the world’s ecosystems and could ultimately see individuals prosecuted before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
International lawyers are drafting plans for a legally enforceable crime of ecocide – criminalising destruction of the world’s ecosystems – that is already attracting support from European countries and island nations at risk from rising sea levels. The aim is to draw up a legal definition of “ecocide” that would complement other existing international offences such as crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
He was recently appointed co-chair of a panel convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation to draft a legal definition of “ecocide” as a potential international crime. “The function of law, in part, is to change consciousness, and the absence of any international crime concerning massive damage to the environment basically sends a signal that it’s OK to do that,” says Sands. “I have kids and I want to do my bit for future generations.”
From the Pope to Greta Thunberg, there are growing calls for the crime of “ecocide” to be recognised in international criminal law – but could such a law ever work? Co-founder Jojo Mehta is interviewed by Sophie Yeo.