A panel of 12 independent legal experts from across the world presented a working definition of “ecocide” that they hope will be accepted by the International Criminal Court after six months of discussion.
The Stop Ecocide Foundation, an NGO whose declared goal is to have the ICC adopt ecocide in order to “defend future life on Earth,” astounded the panel. The panel proposes that Article 5(1) of the Rome Statute be amended to include “the crime of Ecocide,” with the following definition:
“Ecocide” is defined as illegal or wanton actions done with knowledge of a significant probability of severe and either widespread or long-term environmental harm as a result of such acts for the purposes of this Statute.
The proposal contains a suggestion that “the environment is constantly threatened by serious damage and degradation, severely threatening natural and human systems worldwide” be included in the preamble.
Amendments based on the panel’s recommendations would broaden the ICC’s jurisdiction to include crimes of international interest and significance, including severe environmental damage, which opponents have long said is urgently required to fight big polluters. The panel believes that by adopting the amendment, the ICC would be able to hold big polluters accountable for continuing degradation of our environment and the worsening of climate change, while also encouraging a “change of mindset” that favors environmental protection.
The authors acknowledge that there are national laws and international agreements in place to help preserve our environment, but they concede that “it is clear that such regulations are insufficient.”