Britain's left-of-center daily - "The Guardian" - has reported that former international environmental lawyer Polly Higgins has launched a new campaign urging the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to deem environmental damage on par with genocide and crimes against humanity in international courts.
"Supporters of a new ecocide law also believe it could be used to prosecute ‘climate deniers' who distort science and facts to discourage voters and politicians from taking action to tackle global warming and climate change," Juliette Jowit, "Guardian's" environmental editor wrote April 9.
"Higgins makes her case for ecocide to join that list with a simple equation: extraction leads to ecocide, which leads to resource depletion, and resource depletion leads to conflict. ‘The link is if you keep over-extracting from your capital asset we'll have very little left and we will go to war over our capital asset, the last of it,' adds Higgins, who has support in the UN and European commission, and among climate scientists, environmental lawyers and international campaign groups."
Among the "10 reasons why we need ecocide as the 5th international Crime Against Peace" on Higgins' "Thisisecocide" website, number five states "action can be taken against any individual. As an international crime against peace, no-one escapes liability" (emphasis theirs).
The existing definition of "ecocide" as described by Merriam-Webster is "the destruction of large areas of the natural environment especially as a result of deliberate human action," but in order to make "ecocide" more conducive to prosecution and sidestep "legal wrangling," Higgins' UN proposal plans to expand upon the definition.
"The International Criminal Court was formed in 2002 to prosecute individuals for breaches of 4 Crimes Against Peace," the "thisisecocide" campaign site states. "They are: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes and Crimes of Aggression. A 5th crime against peace is proposed: The extensive destruction, damage to 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 severely diminished."
And as for all the accusations arguing environmentalists only care more about the earth - and see humans as the problem/enemy? Aside from the fact Polly Higgins is the founder of the "Trees Have Rights Too" website, and her group could care less about the fact that, "Developing countries accused the rich world of trying to ‘bully' the poorer nations into signing up to a weak deal by withholding aid":
"Higgins is suggesting ecocide would include damage done to any species - not just humans," Jowit wrote. "This, she says, would stop prosecutions being tied up in legal wrangling over whether humans were harmed, as many environmental cases currently are: ‘If you put in a crime that's absolute you can't spend years arguing: you take a soil sample and if it tests as positive it's bang to rights.'"
Although Jowit noted how Higgins' UN proposal "would have a profound effect on industries blamed for widespread damage to the environment like fossil fuels, mining, agriculture, chemicals and forestry," dissenting voices were not consulted for the story. She closed with Higgins' opinion that although industries may oppose an "ecocide" law initially, adapting to the new UN law would not be a problem in the least.
"Higgins hopes the UN's ‘one member, one vote' system will help over-ride likely opposition of some nations and vested business interests," Jowit said. "She also believes many businesses favour clear regulation because they fear a future public backlash. And she cites how, when the US entered world war two, its car manufacturers - despite initial opposition - made 10 times the number of aircraft originally asked for. ‘It shows you how industry can turn around very fast.'"
Image via: villiagejournal.org