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Ecocide

What is ecocide?

ECOCIDE is large scale damage and destruction of ecosystems – severe harm to nature which is widespread or long-term.

ECOCIDE, committed repeatedly over decades, has created the climate and ecological emergency
that we now face.

Ecocide Laws Australia

AELA is hosting an Australian working group made up of lawyers, academic researchers and law students, who are working to draft ecocide laws for jurisdictions in Australia.

The working group are presenting a webinar in October 2021, to provide an update about their work. For the webinar details please visit AELA's events page.

To find out more about Ecocide Laws Australia, please email: aela@earthlaws.org.au

Stop Ecocide International - Australian branch

The work of Stop Ecocide International

Stop Ecocide International, co-founded in 2017 by barrister and legal pioneer the late Polly Higgins and current Executive Director Jojo Mehta, promotes and facilitates steps towards making ecocide a crime at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to prevent devastation of nature and so protect the future of life on Earth.

Stop Ecocide International has an expanding network of communication teams around the globe, and websites in multiple languages.  A growing number of ICC member states (as well as the Pope and the EU) have publicly expressed interest in an international crime of ecocide.

The work of the Australian branch of Stop Ecocide

AELA hosts the amazing volunteers who are working to bring the international campaign to communities, politicians and practitioners in Australia. To find out more, please email: aela@earthlaws.org.au

Why should we advocate for an international law of ecocide?

Despite the existence of many international agreements – codes of conduct, UN Resolutions, Treaties, Conventions, Protocols etc – environmental harm is escalating. Not one of these international agreements prohibits ecocide. The power of recognising ecocide as a crime, is that it creates a legal duty of care that holds persons of ‘superior responsibility’ to account in a criminal court of law.

The impact of including ecocide law as an international crime will be significant; prohibiting dangerous industrial activity that causes ecocide and exacerbates climate change has the potential to be a game changer on a global scale.

Ecocide is a crime against the living natural world – ecosystem loss, damage or destruction is occurring every day; for instance, the Athabasca Tar Sands.  Ecocide is a crime against the Earth, not just humans. Further, ecocide can also be climate crime: dangerous industrial activity causes climate ecocide. Currently there is a missing responsibility to protect. Unlike crimes against humanity, ecocide has severe impact on inhabitants, not just humans. Thus, what is required is the expansion of our collective duty of care to protect the natural living world and all life. International ecocide crime is a law to protect the Earth.

What's the process for making ecocide a criminal offence in international law?

Criminalising ecocide at an international level requires one or more nation state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to propose the inclusion of ecocide to the existing “most serious crimes of concern”. You can read the process that will be required to implement ecocide as an international crime of the Rome Statute here.

Existing ecocide laws currently exist in ten countries

Ecocide is already recognised as a crime in the domestic or national laws of ten countries.  To read about these laws, visit Eradicating Ecocide's website.

How can you support the creation of ecocide laws?

  • To support the creation of an international law of ecocide, visit the Stop Ecocide International website here and connect with their campaigns
  • To support practical advocacy work in Australia, become an AELA member and contact us to find out how you can support the work of Ecocide Laws Australia
  • If you'd like to volunteer with AELA, to help promote the creation of ecocide laws, please contact us at: aela@earthlaws.org.au

Acknowledging the life, legacy and tragic death of Polly Higgins

Jonathan Watts, Guardian (Australia), 22 April 2019