Twelve legal scholars plan to make “ecocide”—a still-vague term that signifies “severe” and “widespread or long-term environmental damage”—an international crime alongside genocide and war crimes.
The panel of scholars proposed a 165-word long, intentionally vague definition for ecocide, which could become the basis of a crime that the International Criminal Court in The Hague would prosecute, Inside Climate News reported.
To make ecocide an international crime, one of the ICC’s 123 member states would have to propose putting it under the court’s jurisdiction. China, India, Russia, and the United States are not member states.
If the member states approve ecocide as an international crime, then it would become the first that does not necessarily entail harm to humans.
The four crimes that the ICC currently prosecutes—genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression—are intended to protect humans.
“The four existing international crimes focus on the wellbeing of human individuals and groups …and rightly so,” said Philippe Sands, an attorney on the panel that proposed ecocide’s definition. “We don’t in any way wish to diminish those vastly important crimes.”
“But what is missing is a place for our natural world,” Sands continued. “None of the existing international criminal laws protect the environment as an end in itself, and that’s what the crime of ecocide does.”
The Latin root word -cide is generally understood as meaning “to kill,” although it can also be interpreted as “to cut.”
The panel that proposed ecocide’s definition did not clearly and concisely define the term—apparently in a conscious effort to give judges wide discretion when prosecuting cases.
The legal scholars also refused to give examples of ecocide because they thought that a list could not cover all its possible manifestations. They did not want the absence of a specific example of ecocide to accidentally disqualify the court from considering it as such.
Sands said the legal experts purposefully excluded deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and other popular examples of environmental damage because they did not want to target specific nations.
Ecocide’s long-winded definition and lack of practical examples create the perfect conditions to empower activist judges and environmental fanatics to persecute developers.
In fact, since at least 2012, leftists in the United States, backed by wealthy corporate patrons such as the Rockefeller Foundation, have been deploying a similar strategy—often successfully.
At a secretive meeting in La Jolla, Calif., environmental activists plotted out the strategy to litigate so-called environmental crimes and to create burdensome hindrances for companies that rely on natural resources.
Sands admitted that the ICC, likewise, could employ ecocide’s vague definition to criminalize energy development, rather than using the law to punish careless and purposeless environmental damage.
“I’m loath to mention any particular examples, but the authorization, for example, in an industrialized country of a massive new coal field and a massive new coal fired power plant without properly taking into account impacts on the climate system, I think, could arguably come within this definition,” he said.
International judges, not clear definitions and laws, will determine if energy development projects that “contribute to climate change qualify as ecocide,” Inside Climate News reported.
Sands said ICC judges could could determine whether projects constitute ecocide according to other national and international laws.
Yet, the diversity among national and international environmental and climate laws means that judges will have unlimited discretion.
Germany’s environmental laws, for example, could prescribe harsh punishments for development while American laws tend to favor energy producers.
In France, Netherlands, and Germany, courts have ruled that governments themselves can face punishments for failing to cut carbon-dioxide emissions.
“A failure to act is an act,” Sands said.
International judges could justify their decisions according to any number of contradictory laws and court cases, whether national or international.
Sands, a climate activist, sees ecocide’s definition as an “impressive work product” and “well-defined and pragmatic.”
Yet, the definition’s strength—from a climate alarmist’s perspective—seems to reside in its unlimited flexibility.
The definition begins: “For the purpose of this Statute, ‘ecocide’ means 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.”
The panel then explains that “widespread” means “damage which extends beyond a limited geographic area, crosses state boundaries, or is suffered by an entire ecosystem or species or a large number of human beings.”
The explanation simply raises more questions: what is considered a “limited geographic area,” “an entire ecosystem” or “a large number?”
The panel also explains that “severe” means “damage which involves very serious adverse changes, disruption or harm to any element of the environment, including grave impacts on human life or natural, cultural or economic resources.”
Likewise, who then defines “very serious” or “grave impacts?”
The inclusion of “disruption or harm to any element of the environment” seems to give away the environmentalists’ true intentions because almost all human development disrupts the environment, whether for good or ill.