Panel of legal experts, co-chaired by Philippe Sands QC, draw up definition of ‘ecocide’ as an international crime


Photo by John O'Nolan on Unsplash

A group of legal experts from across the globe have worked over the last 6 months to draft a definition of the offence of ‘ecocide’, for incorporation into the Rome Statute. The proposed law builds on the existing crime of severe environmental damage during armed conflict, but would allow the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’) to prosecute those very serious offences against the environment which occur during times of peace.

The draft law defines 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.”

If the definition is adopted, it will become the fifth offence that the ICC can prosecute, alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression.

Professor Philippe Sands QC was invited by The Stop Ecocide Foundation to co-chair the panel and was assisted by Florence Iveson.

Useful link(s)

The Guardian

The full definition and commentary