“Ecocide” – a term referring to the mass destruction of the environment – may once have seemed radical and niche. But the campaign to criminalise Ecocide is fast gaining traction. This collection provides a simple introduction to this complex issue, highlighting the new voices, ideas, and the challenges involved in using the law to tackle the climate crisis. Meet the key players who are driving the campaign to Stop Ecocide, and treat the mass destruction of the environment as a crime against humanity.
ERADICATING ECOCIDE – AN INTERVIEW WITH POLLY HIGGINS
How and why are large corporations still able to decimate our environment without facing criminal charges?
In this article, Polly Higgins, a barrister, author and a celebrated environmental lobbyist, sets out to answer this question. As a pioneer of environmental advocacy for the eradication of ecocide, she explains why she is lobbying for ecocide to become the new fifth international crime alongside genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. All four international crimes are defined in the Rome Statute; a treaty established by the International Criminal Court.
Read the full story here.
Want to know more about Polly Higgins and her movement? Watch her TEDTalk here.
SPOKEN EARTH: WHY THE EARTH IS IN NEED OF A GOOD LAWYER
“With ecocide, you’re looking at the grand scale because on the criminal side there is no equivalence with regard to the natural world; to the laws we have with respect to other people, effectively you have a right to life, but what protects that right is the fact that murder is a crime.”
In this episode from Lacuna’s environmental podcast series Spoken Earth, Adam Weymouth speaks with Jojo Mehta, co-founder and chair of the Stop Ecocide foundation, alongside Polly Higgins. The conversation explores exactly why Mehta believes that ecocide should be criminalised and established as the fifth of the crimes of gravest concern to humanity. We hear that what once seemed to be a far-reaching goal is now fringing reality.
Listen to the interview here.
Want to know how the term “ecocide” was coined and more about the history of ecocide? Listen to Outrage + Optimism: Jojo Mehta on Ecocide and Ending Impunity here.
DEFINING ECOCIDE – AN INTERVIEW WITH PROF PHILIPPE SANDS QC
Prof Philippe Sands QC is a prominent advocate continuing the movement spearheaded by Polly Higgins; to recognise ecocide as an international crime.
Prof Sands was co-chair of an expert drafting panel appointed by the International Criminal Court to draft a legal definition of ecocide. In this article, we get a glimpse of some of the practical challenges involved, notably, “that this law could be the first international crime after the Nuremberg Trials in 1945”. We also encounter some of the pitfalls the panel has to overcome to create a comprehensive, practical and enduring definition of ecocide; a key building block of a new law that, if implemented, would revolutionise international criminal and environmental law.
Read the full story here.
For more on the challenge of defining ecocide, listen to ‘A Crime With No Name: The International Definition of Ecocide’, a podcast with Prof Sands, here.
ECOCIDE AS AN INTERNATIONAL CRIME: STOP ECOCIDE SYMPOSIUM
This event was part of the 19th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), where small island party states to the ICC, Maldives and Vanuatu address the need for ecocide to be seriously considered by the ICC. This pledge outlines how impactful an international ecocide law could potentially be.
Watch the full event here.
What are countries doing about ecocide?
In June 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged (concerning domestic law), to recognise ecocide as a crime in the existing legal framework of France and to try to recognise it internationally in . Following this, in October 2020 Belgium pledged diplomatic action to halt the crime of ecocide by acknowledging it both locally and internationally. As well as nation states, There has key figures such as Pope Francis and Greta Thunberg have added further support to make ecocide an international crime.
TAYLOR REPORT – ECOCIDE: WAR ON PLANET
“Inspired by a sense of urgency that if we don’t get some very substantial and meaningful action on climate change, the Earth and its many populations and its many species will be facing grave dangers in the future.”
David Barsamian, a notable Armenian-American radio broadcaster and writer, argues that the struggle to preserve the environment must steer clear of leadership photo-ops and symbolic gestures.
Listen to the podcast here.
ECOCIDE IN PRACTICE- A BRAZILIAN CASE STUDY
Nowhere is the need to draft and implement an ecocide law felt more urgently than in the case of Brazil’s Yanomami people who are facing mercury poisoning from the work of 20,000 illegal miners in their rainforest home.
Watch a short documentary here.
Want more information on this? Read this article explaining the threat to the Yanomami people and their Amazon reserve here.
Main image by Ivan Radic.
Main image by Ivan Radic.