Ecocide must be recognized as a global crime

Ecocide must be recognized as a global crime

Photo: Pixabay / Picography

Researchers recently confirmed that the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon dioxide than it absorbs, due to uncontrolled burning and deforestation. It brings the crucial ecosystem closer to the top, which would see it replaced by savannah and trigger accelerated global warming.

This is not an isolated example of nature being damaged on a mass scale. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this month confirmed that global warming is now affecting all continents, regions and oceans on Earth. It includes Australia, which is a global deforestation hotspot where the Great Barrier Reef is heading for virtual extinction.

In the face of such horrors, a new international campaign calls for? Ecocide? ? the killing of ecology? to be considered an international? superbrott? in the genocide scheme. The campaign has attracted acclaimed supporters, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis and Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

Making ecocide an international crime is an appropriate response to the seriousness of this damage and can help prevent mass destruction of the environment. But whether it does depends on how the crime is defined.

Defines ecocide

The global campaign is led by the Stop Ecocide Foundation. Last month, an independent legal panel advising the campaign released a proposed amendment to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It would make ecocide a crime and define it as:

Defining a new international crime is a tricky balance. It has to:

capture the severity, nature and extent of the damage

set appropriate, but not impossible, standards of evidence

set moral standards that other international laws should follow.

The proposed definition marks an important step in getting ecocide on the international agenda. And it does a good job of defining and balancing the core elements of ecocide? ?difficult? and either? widespread? or? long term? damage to “any part of the environment”.

It is commendable that these core elements show a concern for ecosystem integrity, human rights to a healthy environment and how serious damage to ecosystems can have devastating local and planetary consequences well into the future. This is a significant achievement.

Despite these strengths, lawyers and schools, including ourselves, have identified problems with the definition.

Towards an ecological approach

An important question is that the proposed definition only considers it “illegal”? or? willing? acts as an ecocide.

Most environmental damage is not illegal. We need look no further than Australia? Sland clearing lawor, in fact, federal environmental law that has completely failed to protect nature.

Willpower pollution often takes a heavy toll on fragile ecosystems both on land and in water (photo: Pixabay / BilingualColombia)

According to the proposed definition, are legal acts only ecocidal if they are “evil”? defined as “ruthless disregard for harm that would be clearly exaggerated in relation to the social and economic and expected benefits”.

This condition presupposes that certain ecocidal damage is acceptable in the name of human progress. According to the panel, such? Socially beneficial actions? may include the construction of housing development and transport connections.

Does this assumption promote human-centered privilege and “getting out of jail”? clauses that have so far weakened international environmental law.

We are not saying that homes, transport links or farms should not be built. But during a period that some scientists call the sixth mass extinction, they can not come at the expense of important species and ecosystems. Sustainable development must respect this limit.

The assumption also fails to realize how serious ecocide is. Such trade-offs? formally called? exception? ? rejected by international conventions on slavery, torture, sexual violence and fundamental human rights.

For example, the Convention against Torture:

An international crime against ecocide must meet a similar standard. It should realize that all forms of life, and the ecological systems that support them, have value for their own sake.

This perspective is known as several species justice. It claims that human well-being is tied to flowering ecosystems, which have an intrinsic value outside of human use for them.

Genocide? annihilation of human groups? recognized as a crime against humanity. As political philosopher Hannah Arendt argued that genocide is an attack on human diversity that erodes humanity? and constitutes agrave against global order.

In the same way, the definition of ecocide should recognize that actions that destroy biodiversity and lead to the extinction of species, threaten nature itself and the survival of the earth’s diverse communities.

In Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and more recently in Myanmar, millions were killed and dispersed during a crime against humanity known as “ethnic cleansing.” Yet this killing and spreading is happening to non-human societies as we write. The large habitat that was destroyed by deforestation is as important to displaced animals as our homes are to us.

And this is a common disaster. Mass environmental destruction is an attack on the basis of all life that constitutes the biosphere, of which humanity is only a part.

What should be done?

Stop Ecocide Foundations says the proposed definition will now be “made available to states for consideration”.

When they do, we should work for a definition of ecocide that puts non-human lives at the center. The crime of ecocide must be defined in a way that honors its victims? the innumerable beings of the earth.

Meanwhile, political efforts to restore the destruction of biodiversity must become an urgent global priority. And citizens can pressure their governments to criminalize the ecocidal acts that have become commonplace.

This article was written by Anthony Burke, Professor of Environmental Policy and International Relations at the University of New South Wales and Danielle Celermajer, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. It is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The post ‘Ecocide? must be recognized as a global crime first appeared in the Sustainability Times.

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