A Call to Make Ecocide a Global Crime

February 16th, 2021 - by Stop Ecocide

European Parliament Urges Support for Making Ecocide an International Crime

Stop Ecocide

THE NETHERLANDS (January 21, 2021) — In an amendment to its report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2019, the European Parliament has voted to urge “the EU and the Member States to promote the recognition of ecocide as an international crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)”.  

The amendment was submitted by MEP Salima Yenbou (Greens/EFA – pictured above ).  It underlines the interdependence of human and ecosystem wellbeing, and supports international efforts to address environmental crimes*.  

MEP Marie Toussaint, long-term campaigner for EU recognition of ecocide, said: “This is a real victory, a first major step towards the recognition of ecocide by the European Union. Member states must now speak out at the ICC and on the international stage. Climate change is accelerating, the loss of biodiversity is leading to planetary pandemics, the sea is rising: let’s move forward fast!”

The news comes just as a public consultation is launched calling for input from state parties, individuals, groups, organisations, corporations and institutions into the drafting process for a legal definition of “ecocide”, a term broadly used to refer to mass damage and destruction of ecosystems. 

The legal definition is being developed by an independent panel of top international criminal and environmental lawyers convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation at the request of parliamentarians from governing parties in Sweden. 

The panel’s remit is to draft a robust definition that may be put forward precisely for the purpose outlined in the amended European Parliament report: adding Ecocide to the list of Rome Statute crimes.  Currently these are Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and the Crime of Aggression.

Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation Jojo Mehta says: “This European parliamentary vote is hugely encouraging.  The political world is rapidly waking up to what scientists have been telling us for decades and the indigenous world has been telling us for centuries: that humanity cannot destroy the natural world with impunity. 

“There are consequences.  We know now that tipping points are being crossed and we have a short time to act.  Making ecocide a crime recognises this, providing a practical guardrail to prevent the worst excesses of damage that are pushing Earth’s life-support systems towards breaking point.”

The drawing up of a legal definition, in consultation with experts and with state parties, is key to the success of this legal route, explains Mehta.

“Our Foundation is is soliciting input from respected voices in several arenas to provide a comprehensive backdrop to the drafting process. Along with primary scientific reports, we are invitinginput from indigenous leaders, whose voices are indispensable here as 80% of Earth’s biodiversity is stewarded by indigenous communities. Faith leaders, youth voices and the corporate sustainability sector are also being approached.  The public consultation is a fundamental part of this knowledge-gathering process.”  

Mehta adds: “State Parties to the Rome Statute are also being consulted. Public and political demand for ecocide law is growing fast, and input from governments must be sought, since it is ultimately state parties which will take forward this crucial addition to the list of international crimes.”

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