Should “ecocide” become an international crime? »Yale Climate Connections

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The International Criminal Court in The Hague in the Netherlands only prosecutes four categories of crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression and war crimes.

But in June, an international panel of lawyers proposed a definition of a new type of international crime.

“I can sum it up,” says Alex Whiting of Harvard Law School, who was on the panel. “And what the definition says is that causing widespread, serious or lasting damage to the environment is the crime of” ecocide. “

Whiting says that for the International Criminal Court to prosecute people for crimes of ecocide, nations will need to pass and ratify an amendment to the court’s charter. Getting to this point could take years of debate and deliberation.

“Getting states to accept this – to bind themselves to an international agreement, to an international crime – is a long and complicated process,” he says. “But getting started… is important.”

He is already saying that the work they have done to define ecocide as an international crime motivates nations to think about their own environmental laws.

And it sparks a debate about new ways to hold people accountable for air pollution and damage to the Earth.

Reporting Credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media


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