How do you define the crime of Ecocide?

Ecocide is the 5th Crime Against Peace – it is a crime against nature, humanity and future generations.

The legal definition of Ecocide submitted to the UN by international barrister and award winning author, Polly Higgins is “the extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems 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 severely diminished”. ‘Peaceful enjoyment’ is the legal term used in the tort of nuisance, which imposes a legal responsibility on those who cause diminution of or injury to life to such an extent that impact is severe. It is also sometimes referred to in law as a ‘fiduciary duty of care’.

Why is an international law of Ecocide so powerful?

As an international crime, it stands to be recognised over and above national laws.  The international Crimes Against Peace are in effect super-laws, that override national law, thereby taking supremacy.

In a nutshell, can you summarise what can be done?

Sure: 1. get at least 1 Head of State to call for an amendment to the Rome Statute to include a law of Ecocide, 2. Open the Rome Statute for signatories to sign up in support. 3. Once 2/3rds of the signatories sign up, a law of Ecocide becomes international law.  Timewise, this can be done by 2020.

What’s at the heart of this law?

It is currently the law for Chief Executive Officers and directors to put profit first. By creating a law of Ecocide corporations are empowered, by legal means, to put people and planet first. By making Ecocide a crime the moral and legal duty to prevent Ecocide trumps the current number one driver of business, namely the economic imperative. This is about giving persons of ‘superior responsibility’ in corporations, government and finance the legal framework in which they can choose whether to commit a crime or to become the drivers of innovation and leadership in a very different direction.

How long will it take to get Ecocide made a Crime Against Peace?

Once an amendment to the Rome Statute has been agreed upon to include Ecocide, what has been proposed is a period of transition (5 years) when corporations will be given all the help they need to become the drivers for change and create the solutions for a green economy, and to help them thrive economically under the new legal and moral framework.

Why was a law of Ecocide removed in 1996 as an international Crime under the Rome Statute?

No reasons were given at the time. What we do know is that some countries had given statements of support for a crime of Ecocide and some countries even went so far as to object when it was withdrawn. All we have are the records of those meetings and the opinions of the UN Rapporteurs at that time who believed it was corporate interests that lobbied. You can read the full summary of those documents in the University of London’s Human Rights Consortium’s Ecocide Project research paper, called Ecocide is the Missing 5th Crime Against Peace.

Could this happen again?

Yes it could. But unlike last time, this time round, you know about this. Everything on this website is under a creative commons license so that you can share and spread this one law, so that this time round the public know what can be done.

How can we make sure that a law of Ecocide is put in place?

By creating a public mandate.

How can we make sure that a law of Ecocide is not relegated to a lesser definition than the one stated here?

By calling for what is required, not accepting something less.

What can I do to help?

Please gift your time, energy and/or money. All are equally valued. For ideas of how you can help have a look at What You Can Do.