Ecocide: Should environmental damage be criminalised?

What is ecocide?

You might have heard of ecocide in relation to the latest French bill condemning acts of environmental damage. The theory behind ecocide is that environmental damage should not go unpunished. It was first suggested by Vanuatu's ambassador to the EU at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in December 2019. 

Environmental campaigners believe that ecocide should come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court which currently only prosecutes four major crimes. If ecocide were to be added to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, it would instantly hold perpetrators of environmental destruction accountable and liable to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment. 

Jojo Mehta, co-founder of the Stop Ecocide campaign, explains that by making ecocide a criminal act, it would automatically make the public view it as immoral. This would therefore cause a cultural shift in the perception towards environmental destruction. 

France passes new environmental bill 

More recently, France has been in the spotlight for passing an environmental bill which includes the creation of a crime against ecocide. The French Environmental Minister, Barbara Pompili, asserted that the bill will only cover national crimes such as French river pollution, and will not be extended to international environmental damage. 

The core aim of the bill is to hold accountable those committing "serious and durable" cases of intentional environmental damage to water, air or soil. For the environmental bill to be approved, it had to endure over 200 hours of debate in the French parliamentary commission.

Despite Pompili insisting that Macron's bill will affect the everyday lives of French citizens, environmental campaigners and activists have criticised the bill for being insufficient in the wake of climate change. They believe Macron has half-heartedly attempted assert the criminality of ecocide. 

What are your thoughts on ecocide?

Do you believe that ecocide should come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court? Or should countries tackle the issue independently like France?

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