The idea of remarking Ecocide as an Internationally recognized crime has its roots in the long past but it gained momentum with the coming of the Stop Ecocide Foundation established by Late Polly Higgins and Jojo Mehta in 2017.
Their endeavor had been to make Ecocide recognized as a crime in the International Criminal Court (ICC). This would be a significant step towards stopping the exploitation of nature and protecting future generations on earth.
Humanity is moving towards turning the world into a global graveyard and to a state from which the whole species would be redeemable, we all received a glimpse of it in 2020 which was the beginning of an all-encompassing Pandemic still continuing.
In the favour of doing something to not let the world turn to that devastated graveyard, in 2020 the Stop Ecocide Foundation convened an Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide (‘Panel’).
The Panel comprised of twelve lawyers from around the world with expertise in climate, environmental and criminal law. They worked together over a period of time looking into all the factors and find a comprehensive definition of ‘Ecocide’.
In the year 2021 over the bygone six months, the Panel came together for five remote sessions. They divided their tasks and worked in an organized manner.
In June 2021, the panel reached a conclusion and with common consensus, a definition of Ecocide as an International crime was reached and a core text upon it was released.
Now, this draft is to be taken forward to the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the hope that an amendment to the Rome Statute will be considered on the basis of this core text. The Statute stands for crimes of International interest and relevance and crimes of nature should be included in it as it is high time.
Jojo Mehta, Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation and convenor of the panel, said: “This is a historic moment. This expert panel came together in direct response to a growing political appetite for real answers to the climate and ecological crisis.
The moment is right – the world is waking up to the danger we are facing if we continue along our current trajectory.”
She commented about the drafting work saying it “was high-level, collaborative and informed by many experts as well as a public consultation comprising hundreds of legal, economic, political, youth, faith, and indigenous perspectives.
The resulting definition is well-pitched between what needs to be done concretely to protect ecosystems and what will be acceptable to states. It’s concise, it’s based on strong legal precedents and it will mesh well with existing laws.
Governments will take it seriously, and it offers a workable legal tool corresponding to a real and pressing need in the world.”
The Panel suggests a new change in Article 8 of the Roman Statute according to the Core text. It strongly recommends adding the word ‘ecocide’ as a new crime. Moreover, their commentary and core text includes the following changes:
- use of the terms ‘widespread’, ‘long-term’ and ‘severe’ to describe the prohibited damage;
- a proportionality test (‘clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated’); and
- the use of endangerment liability, rather than a requirement for the materialization of harm.
Rebecka Le Moine, Member of Swedish Parliament, who went to Stop Ecocide Foundation with a request for a definition of ecocide, said:
“I welcome this definition, as it makes the term ecocide more concrete and clear, it also makes it a lot easier for me as a politician and a lawmaker to find support for the criminalization of it.”