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‘Ecocide Could Become the 5th Crime Prosecuted by International Criminal Court – ‘Prosecute & imprison political leaders & corporate executives’ – Claim ecocide ‘poses a similar threat to humanity’ as Holocaust

Could Ecocide Become the Fifth Crime Prosecuted by the International Criminal Court?

A coalition of environmentalists, legal scholars and political leaders want to make widespread environmental destruction an international crime on par with genocide. Ecocide, they say, poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of existing legal conventions.

This campaign is now moving from the fringe of advocacy into global diplomacy, pushed by the growing recognition among advocates and many world leaders that climate change and environmental damage are inherently tied to human rights and social justice. If ecocide becomes the fifth crime prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and war crimes, it could hold business executives accountable in the same way as political leaders and warlords.

International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.

The Fifth Crime: First in a continuing series with NBC News about the campaign to make “ecocide” an international crime.

In 1948, after Nazi Germany exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities during World War II, the United Nations adopted a convention establishing a new crime so heinous it demanded collective action. Genocide, the nations declared, was “condemned by the civilized world” and justified intervention in the affairs of sovereign states.

Now, a small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense they say poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of existing legal conventions: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment.

The Pope describes ecocide as “the massive contamination of air, land and water,” or “any action capable of producing an ecological disaster,” and has proposed making it a sin for Catholics.

The Pontiff has also endorsed a campaign by environmental activists and legal scholars to make ecocide the fifth crime before the International Criminal Court in The Hague as a legal deterrent to the kinds of far-reaching environmental damage that are driving mass extinction, ecological collapse and climate change. The monumental step, which faces a long road of global debate, would mean political leaders and corporate executives could face charges and imprisonment for “ecocidal” acts.



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Ecocide: Should Destruction of the Planet Be a Crime?
To prosecute and imprison political leaders and corporate executives would require a parsing of legal boundaries and a recalibration of criminal accountability.
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