In a historic moment for climate justice, a panel of 12 lawyers from different countries has unveiled a new legal definition of “ecocide,” intended to be adopted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute world leaders and corporate chiefs for the worst acts of environmental destruction.
After six months of deliberation, the international panel published the core text of the proposed law on Tuesday, defining ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts,” reports Al Jazeera.
The proposed law requires an act of ecocide to involve “reckless disregard” that leads to “serious adverse changes, disruption or harm to any element of the environment.” Another section states that such acts of destruction would “extend beyond a limited geographic area, cross state boundaries, or [be] suffered by an entire ecosystem or species or a large number of human beings.”
The draft law intends to persuade the members of the ICC to add ecocide alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression, as the so-called “fifth crime” that could be prosecuted at the ICC.
While the draft legislation’s adoption is not a guarantee, its publication marks a huge step for a global campaign that aims to criminalize ecological offenses.