Return to Ecocide

Making Ecocide a Crime in International Law

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:

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 oninhabitants, 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”.

Click here to read AELA’s blog explaining the process that will be required to implement ecocide as an international crime of the Rome Statute.

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 Ecocide Law’s website.

Acknowledging the life, legacy and tragic death of Polly Higgins