Climate ChangeRecent Post

Why ecocide should be an international crime

Whilst those defending the environment often find the law used against them – through the criminalisation of peaceful protest, or their rights are ignored when illegal acts are committed against them by companies and local authorities – it’s proven difficult to hold those destroying the environment accountable.

To remedy this situation, Global Witness has joined a growing movement which is calling to establish ecocide as an international crime within the remit of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Currently the court recognises four international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. We’re joining the growing tidal wave of activists campaigning for ecocide to be added as the fifth crime.

What is ecocide?

Stop Ecocide International has legally defined ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long term damage being done to the environment being caused by those acts.”

In other words, it’s any kind of activity which knowingly causes significant environmental harm – burning large quantities of fossil fuels, cutting down swathes of climate-critical forest, etc. It’s aimed at taking on the very worst culprits while reinforcing the obligation of states to take steps to stop the destruction of the environment.

Why is a new crime needed?

As it stands, the legal framework makes it difficult to pin legal charges on those who are causing or contributing to environmental destruction. While there have been a series of recent valiant attempts to sue fossil fuel corporations in civil court for covering up evidence that their activities were causing global warming, the defendants have largely been able to get away scot-free.

Part of the reason for this is that ‘the environment’ has not had the ability or standing to bring a legal action for harm done to it. Legal accountability usually relies on there being some sort of damage to people or private or public property protected by law. That’s tricky when polluters are contributing to a broader destructive system which causes damage at a global level.

Criminalising ecocide would fill this legal gap, and allow individuals (and companies in some jurisdictions) to be prosecuted for engaging in acts with knowledge that they are substantially likely to damage the environment, without the need to show harm to any individual person.

Source link

Comment here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.