Climate Change

ECOCIDE IS A CRIME.

ecocide-title

Source: eradicatingecocide.com

Definition

Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.

proposed amendment to the Rome Statute, by Polly Higgins, April 2010

Currently there is no overriding mandatory duty of care (sometimes called a fiduciary duty) to prevent significant harm or to act pre-emptively to give assistance to those who are facing Ecocide. Governments, business and finance are not legally bound to be accountable for some of the biggest Ecocides, despite the risk to both humans and nature. By creating a crime of Ecocide, the enforcement of a global primary duty (to stop activities that cause significant harm) ensures that all subsequent decisions are made whereby people and planet are put first. By criminalising Ecocide at an international level, a global duty of care is created.

The Problem: Ecocide

Ecocide, the extensive destruction of ecosystems, is occurring today. For example:

Large-scale land use change that causes the direct destruction of habitats – as is the case with deforestation in most tropical rainforests;

Significant pollution whether deliberate or incidental – such as oil dumping and spills;

Open cast mining where entire landscapes are removed – as is the case with oil sands and some coal and gold mining;

There is wide scientific agreement that the scale of these changes is not sustainable and that continued interference with the Earth system will have significant consequences. Humanity has stepped out of what has been called a ‘safe operating space’ and has exceeded at least three defined planetary boundaries.

The United Nation’s Global Environmental Outlook 5 Report 2012 (GEO-5) summarises the anthropogenic impacts on the Earth System, reiterating that they are unprecedented in human history. We know that we cannot continue to impact ecosystems with impunity forever and for there to be no consequences. The only question that is worth asking is what we will do about it.

If you are facing Ecocide our Strategic Partners, the International Senior Lawyers Project UK may be able to provide you with free advice. Contact the ISLP UK.

The solution: The law of Ecocide

Change on the scale that is necessary to address these immense, globally significant issues will not simply happen spontaneously. Nor will it occur if we rely on weak international agreements or voluntary action alone. What is needed is a change that addresses the core problem. The issue is that the existence of major environmental externalities means that it is more profitable for companies to cause Ecocide than to invest in renewable solutions. However, it does not have to be this way.

In 2010 international barrister and award winning author Polly Higgins proposed to the UN that Ecocide be implemented as the fifth Crime Against Peace.

 

Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.

Existing Ecocide Laws

Ecocide is already recognised as a crime in ten countries. What is of note is that in most of the penal codes listed below, the crime of Ecocide is set down in code and listed as a “Crime Against Peace”, often alongside the named four international Crimes Against Peace; Crimes Against Humanity, Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes of Aggression. (These 4 core crimes are the international crimes set out in the Rome Statute, the document that codified the 4 international Crimes Against Peace in 1998).

When the Crimes Against Peace were originally being examined within the UN throughout the 1970s to the 1990s, many countries were in favor of including Ecocide as the fifth Crime Against Peace. However, Ecocide was left out in 1996, after 11 years of drafting of what was originally known as the Draft Code of the Security and Peace of Mankind where Ecocide had been included, despite many countries objecting to its exclusion. Read the report that sets out the history of what happened here: “Ecocide is the Missing 5th Crime Against Peace”.

Further research on the effectiveness of these laws is being carried out by lawyers within the International Senior Lawyers Project UK.

Although there are Ecocide laws in place, the effectiveness of these laws depends on a number of factors including the enforcement of the law, an independent judiciary and respect for the rule of law.  Many of the countries with national Ecocide laws in place are ranked very highly for corruption and low for respect for the rule of law by Transparency International.

Governance: For an Ecocide law to be effective, it must be implemented on an international level. The ability of being prosecuted through the International Criminal Court will help to ensure that the law is effectively enforced.

The Laws against Ecocide

Criminal Code Georgia 1999

Article 409. Ecocide defined as “Contamination of atmosphere, land and water resources, mass destruction of flora and fauna or any other action that could have caused ecological disaster – shall be punishable by imprisonment extending from eight to twenty years in length”.

Criminal Code the Republic of Armenia 2003

Article 394. Ecocide defined as “Mass destruction of flora or fauna, poisoning the environment, the soils or water resources, as well as implementation of other actions causing an ecological catastrophe, is punished with imprisonment for the term of 10 to 15 years”.

Criminal Code Ukraine 2001

Article 441. Ecocide defined as “Mass destruction of flora and fauna, poisoning of air or water resources, and also any other actions that may cause an environmental disaster, – shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of eight to fifteen years”.

Criminal Code Belarus 1999

Art 131. Ecocide defined as “mass destruction of the fauna and flora, pollution of the atmosphere and water resources as well as any other act liable to cause an ecological disaster”

Penal Code Kazakhstan 1997

Art 161. Ecocide defined as “mass destruction of the fauna or flora, pollution of the atmosphere, agricultural or water resources, as well as other acts which have caused or are capable of causing an ecological catastrophe, constitutes a crime against the peace and security of mankind”.

Criminal Code Kyrgyzstan 1997

Art 374. Ecocide defined as “mass destruction of the flora and fauna, poisoning of the atmosphere or water resources, as well as other acts capable of causing an ecological catastrophe, is punishable by deprivation of liberty”.

Penal Code Republic of Moldova 2002

Art 136. Ecocide defined as “the deliberate and massive destruction of the fauna and flora, the pollution of the atmosphere or poisoning of water resources, as well as other acts capable of causing an ecological catastrophe, is punishable by deprivation of liberty”.

Criminal Code Russian Federation 1996

Art 358. Ecocide defined as “massive destruction of the fauna and flora, contamination of the atmosphere or water resources, as well as other acts capable of causing an ecological catastrophe, constitutes a crime against the peace and security of mankind”.

Criminal Code Tajikistan 1998

Art 400. Ecocide defined as “mass extermination of flora or fauna, poisoning the atmosphere or water resources, as well as other acts capable of causing an ecological catastrophe, constitutes a crime against the peace and security of mankind”.

Penal Code Vietnam 1990

Art 278. Ecocide defined as “destroying the natural environment, whether committed in time of peace or war, constitutes a crime against humanity.”

Discussion

2 thoughts on “ECOCIDE IS A CRIME.

  1. Reblogged this on jpratt27 and commented:
    Excellent article

    Posted by John | May 2, 2014, 11:03 pm
  2. Reblogged this on RisingAnima and commented:
    We are part of Nature, how can we manage Human Rights, without recognizing and respecting Nature´s Rights? Exploiting Nature we are exploiting ourselves also. We only can bring sustainability to practice if we accept Human beings as part of the Whole, instead of separating us from Nature, with this arrogant sense of superiority that allows the Humanity to be unnatural and destructive. Looking to the panorama, are we that good and superior? Do you think we are brighter than Nature? I see that the brightness comes from a symbiosis, and we must stop acting like parasites.”…The ones destroying Nature, are teaching us how to live.”- Domingo Ankuash, Shuar leader-Ecuador in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lrXKYJLJu4&app=desktop

    Posted by cucu.an.luzia | November 14, 2014, 7:01 pm

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