“Historical moment”. Legal experts present new definition of ecocide | Climate news

After six months of deliberations, a group of international lawyers has unveiled a new legal definition of “ecocide” that, if adopted, would be tantamount to war crimes, paving the way for the worst nature attacks on world leaders and corporate leaders.

The panel of experts released the main text of the proposed law on Tuesday, describing ecocide as “illegal or unlawful acts committed with the knowledge that such acts are likely to cause serious, widespread or long-term damage to the environment.” ,

Its authors want the members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to accept this and hold the major polluters accountable in an attempt to stop the rampant destruction of the world’s ecosystems.

“It’s a matter of our planet’s survival,” said Dior Fall Soe, a former UN attorney general who co-chaired the commission.

The bill calls for an eco-friendly act that includes “unreasonable contempt”, which leads to “serious adverse changes, disruption or damage to any element of the environment.” Another section states that such damage “will extend beyond a limited geographical area, cross state borders or” [be] suffered by an entire ecosystem or species or large numbers of people. ”

This environmental impact will either be “irreversible” or, of course, cannot be remedied “within a reasonable time.” Finally, to prosecute ecosystem suspects, the proposed law states that crime can be committed anywhere from the Earth’s biosphere to space.

“This is a historic moment,” said Ec Ojo Mehta, president of the Stop Ecocide Foundation, commissioned by a panel of international lawyers. “This group of experts came together to respond to the growing political appetite for real answers to the climate and ecological crisis.”

‘It’s never too late’

Publishing the main text of the law is just the first step. The 123 member states of the ICC must vote to secure a two-thirds majority in the statute of the court, known as the Charter of Rome, to pass a bill before each member can ratify or implement it in its own national jurisdiction.

At that time, ecocide would be joined by genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression as the so-called “fifth crime” that could be prosecuted in the ICC.

Mehta hopes that this will be possible in four or five years. “This is a decisive decade for action on climate and environmental crises,” he said.

“It’s never too late. We have nine years left in this decade. “There is a lot of time to act.”

By amending the law, 12 prominent lawyers, including Bangladesh, Chile, Norway, Samoa, Senegal and the United States, sought to strike a balance between “a desire to go far and a pragmatist,” said Professor Philip. Sands, Co-Chair of the Committee.

“We wanted to find a text that states could imagine, and the initial reaction of those states with which we shared it was very positive,” added Sands, who teaches law at University College London. “We have found a definition that we think might work, but in the end it should be up to the states to decide. And it is a matter of political will. “

At present, corporations causing deforestation through logging, mining, oil drilling, or other large-scale enterprises typically face only financial penalties, leaving executives and other powerful decision-makers vulnerable to prosecution.

The environmental campaign challenges this by threatening to classify them as war criminals, thus providing a powerful deterrent.

«[People who commit genocide] “They are not so worried about their PR as an executive director,” said Mehta. “Corporate credibility, investor confidence, stock prices, etc., largely depend on reputation. So the key decision maker in a company is not attractive at all. ”

Although the passage of the bill is not guaranteed, its publication nevertheless provides a significant milestone in the fight against criminalizing the worst environmental crimes, placing them in parallel with the atrocities of international prestige.

The campaign dates back to 1970, when a botanist in the United States first used “ecocide” to describe strong, deciduous pesticides on forests during the Vietnam War, such as “Agent Orange”, which released the nightmarish effect of the US military decision. , childbirth. Defects անում Destruction of the environment. Since then, Pope Francis and Greta Tunberg, as well as the political leaders of Belgium, Finland, France and Luxembourg, have called for the genocide to be recognized as an international crime.

The panel of experts behind this new bill was set up in late 2020, 75 years after the “genocide”; “crimes against humanity” were used to prosecute Nazi leaders in the Nuremberg trials.

Its members hope that its publication could mean a turning point in justice և accountability, just as humanity is facing the catastrophic consequences of declining biodiversity and a warm climate.

“Sometimes there are moments in international law when remarkable things happen,” Sands said. “I wonder if this could be such a moment.”

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