How 165 Words Could Make Mass Environmental Destruction An International Crime

Mass environmental destruction, known as ecocide, would become an international crime similar to genocide and war crimes under a proposed new legal definition.

The definition’s unveiling last week by a panel of 12 lawyers from around the world marks a big first step in the global campaign’s efforts to prevent future environmental disasters like the deforestation of the Amazon or actions that contribute to climate change.

There are currently four core international crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression. These crimes are dealt with by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide spent six months preparing the 165-word definition, working with outside experts along the way. In a draft of the definition by the Stop Ecocide Foundation, a Netherlands-based coalition, panelists said they hoped the proposed definition could provide a basis for the consideration of a new international crime.

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