A group of experts is fighting to recognize environmental damage as crimes against humanity

A group of experts is fighting to recognize environmental damage as crimes against humanity

Agreement found on the crime of "ecocide", which will be presented to the International Criminal Court for recognition as war crimes and genocide

(Photo: Barcroft Media / Getty Images) Soon the crime of ecocide could be included in the crimes punishable by the International Criminal Court (ICC). After six months of work, a group of lawyers expert in international law has produced a formal definition of "ecocide", destined to be adopted by the CPI to pursue the most reckless and harmful actions against the environment.

Today the devastation of the environment caused by human beings is not an international crime and the CPI can examine these cases only on the basis of the effects they have on people. However, the environmental damage caused in recent decades by industries or states are among the major causes of the current climate emergency and related dangers. For this reason, the Stop Ecocide foundation has assembled a panel made up of some of the leading experts in climate justice and international law, in order to formulate a definition of ecocide that can stem the damage caused by human beings to the planet Earth.

The group is made up of 12 members from all over the world and is coordinated by Philippe Sands, a lawyer who has dealt with pending cases before the CPI and the European Court of Justice, and by Dior Fall Sow, former prosecutor United Nations International. Over the six months of work, the lawyers were assisted by external experts and gathered ideas through a public consultation involving hundreds of participants from different political, legal or ethnic perspectives. Finally, on June 23, consensus was reached on the final text of the definition of ecocide as an international crime, with the hope that it could be the basis on which to amend the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. If adopted by members of the ICC, ecocide would become the fifth crime prosecuted by the court, along with war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression. Moreover, it would be the first new international crime recognized after the Nuremberg trial of the Nazi hierarchs.

The formulation proposed by Stop Ecocide defines "ecocide" as the set of "all those illegal or reckless acts, committed with awareness to be able to cause serious environmental damage, widespread or long-term ". According to Sands, professor at University College London and coordinator of the project, the new definition is particularly original and innovative, because it introduces a non-anthropocentric approach into international law, placing the environment and not the human being at the center of its attention. "The most important thing about this initiative - he told the Guardian - is that it is part of a broader process of transformation of public consciousness, in which it is recognized that we are in relationship with our environment, that our well-being depends on the well-being of the 'environment and that we must use various instruments, political, diplomatic but also legal to achieve the protection of the natural environment ".

Some panel members, Sands recalled, had pushed for the definition to explicitly mention climate change , but the proposal was not accepted to make it more difficult for countries and companies to oppose the new law. Potential examples of ecocide could be nuclear accidents, large oil spills or the deforestation of the Amazon or the killing of a protected species such as the white rhino.

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Environment Climate Crime Legal globalData. fldTopic = "Environment, Climate, Crime, Legal"

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