Ecocide to be defined
An expert drafting panel is to prepare a legal definition of “ecocide” as a potential international crime that could sit alongside War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, in the context of a new global threat: the climate and biodiversity crisis. Launching with preparatory work this month, and set to draft the definition over the early months of 2021, the panel has been convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation on the request of interested parliamentarians from governing parties in Sweden.
The concept of criminalising mass damage and destruction of ecosystems or “ecocide” at a global level has been steadily gaining traction in recent months since small island states Vanuatu and the Maldives called for “serious consideration” of it at the International Criminal Court’s annual Assembly of States Parties in December last year. President Macron of France has actively promised to champion the idea and the newly formed Belgian government has pledged diplomatic action to support it. Now an impressive list of top international and environmental lawyers will be tackling how best to define it. The co-chairs of the panel are international lawyer Philippe Sands QC, a leading specialist on international public and environmental law, and Justice Florence Mumba, a judge at the ECCC (Khmer Rouge Tribunal) and former supreme court judge in Zambia.
The aim is to harness the power of international criminal law to protect our global environment. Seventy five years ago, ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide’ were first defined in Nuremberg. The panel will draw on experience since that day to forge a definition that is practical, effective and sustainable, and that might attract support to allow an amendment to the ICC Statute to be made. An international crime of ecocide could allow individual/State responsibility to be regulated to achieve balance for the survival of both humanity and nature. There have been working definitions of ‘ecocide’ over the years and the general concept - of mass damage and destruction of ecosystems - is reasonably well understood. The text that emerges over the coming months to be proposed at the ICC must be both clear and legally robust. There is now a recognition in the legal world that Ecocide can, and perhaps should, be considered alongside Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity as one of the ‘most serious crimes of concern to humanity as a whole’.
Source: based on Stop Ecocide press release of 17 November 2020: https://www.stopecocide.earth/press-releases-summary/top-international-…
Last updated 18 November 2020