International lawyers want to criminalize systematic damage to nature

The International Criminal Court is about to criminalize the massive and methodical destruction of the world’s ecosystems.

The group coordinating the initiative was led by Professor Philip Sands of University College London and Florence Mumba, a former judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Their work aims to develop a legal definition of “ecocide” (from the words “ecology” and “genocide”). It will align with other international crimes such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

The project received support from European countries (France, Belgium) and some island states that are threatened by rising sea levels (Vanuatu and the Maldives).

It is planned that the definition will mean massive and systematic destruction of ecosystems, for example, large-scale deforestation or burning of forests, fishing on an industrial scale, or an oil spill.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague will deal with crimes that have contributed to “environmental destruction,” “exploitation of natural resources,” and “illegal alienation” of land.

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