Why it’s time to make ecocide a crime: for the sake of its victims

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In November, the world’s first global citizens’ assembly – made up of 100 people chosen by lottery from around the world – declared its recommended responses to the climate crisis at the UN climate conference COP26. Among these recommendations was that causing severe environmental destruction, or “ecocide”, should become a crime.

The assembly drew from a proposal by the Stop Ecocide foundation, which defines ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with the knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts”.

Campaigners hope that this definition will be adopted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). If it were, ecocide would join genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on the list of the world’s most serious crimes.

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