Criminalize Ecocide

A European Citizens Initiative intends to put new laws in place that aim to end ecocide and hold violators of these laws criminally responsible.

According to the Initiative, the tentative legal definition of ecocide is:

the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.

The inclusion of ecosystem(s) in the measure effectively creates a definition whereby the integrated whole of a biological community is considered vulnerable and protected.  This constitutes a perspective that moves beyond current legislation (EU's Environmental Crimes Directive), which only applies to parts of the whole -- like air, soil, water, animals, etc.

The End Ecocide legislation will also create the legal foundation to criminally punish responsible parties, with the possibility of imprisonment.  The main objectives of the measure are:

1. Criminalize Ecocide and ensure that natural and legal persons can be held responsible for committing Ecocide according to the principle of superior responsibility.

Superior responsibility essentially enables, for example, the individual(s) who head a corporation that violates these laws to be held responsible for the violation.

2. Prohibit and prevent any Ecocide on European territories or maritime territories falling under EU legislation, as well as acts outside the EU committed by EU registered legal persons or EU nationals.

This will make it illegal for EU citizen's or companies to participate in ecocide no matter where it occurs -- in Europe or elsewhere.

3. Provide for a period of transition to facilitate a sustainable economy.

Furthermore, products that are known or found to be based on ecocide practices will be made inaccessible in EU markets.  The legislation will also prohibit investing in non-EU companies that are involved in ecocide activities.

The movement draws inspiration from Polly Higgins, an attorney who is attempting to make Ecodide an international crime.  You can watch her TEDx presentation here, and read more about the international movement here.

Image by brad.coy, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.