Vanuatu and the Maledives call for the International Criminal Court to seriously consider recognizing the crime of ecocide.
The Pacific island state of Vanuatu on Monday made a bold statement at the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s annual Assembly of States Parties in The Hague. It argued that the Assembly should consider seriously expanding the court's remit to include a crime of ecocide. Ambassador John Licht of Vanuatu, speaking on behalf of his government to the full plenary session of the Assembly, declared: "An amendment of the Rome Statute could criminalise acts that amount to ecocide. We believe this radical idea merits serious discussion."
Yesterday, the Maledives expressed support for an ecocide amendment as well: "Countries at the frontline of climate change, such as the Maldives, do not have the luxury of time to negotiate for another international legal instrument to fight against environmental crimes. We believe the time is ripe to consider an amendment to the Rome Statute that would criminalise acts that amount to Ecocide.'
Ecocide is the massive damage and destruction of the natural environment and the Earth's climate system. It is the first time since 1972 that state representatives have formally called for ecocide to be recognised at an international forum of such representatives. The last person to do so was Swedish premier Olof Palme in 1972 at the UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment where he described the air and oceans as a shared environment towards which we all must have a duty of care, declaring that "ecocide ... requires urgent international attention".
Stop Ecocide's co-founder Jojo Mehta, who was one of the speakers at a side event hosted on Monday by the Republic of Vanuatu called "Investigating & Prosecuting Ecocide: the current and future role of the ICC", said: '"This is an idea whose time has not only come, it's long overdue. The political climate is changing, in recognition of the changing climate. This initiative is only going to grow - all we are doing is helping to accelerate a much-needed legal inevitability.
Photo: Ambassador John Licht
This blog is based on a press release from Stop Ecocide.
Wed, 04 December