Stop EcocideEthical News News & Features
Extinction Rebellion will peacefully blockade various key sites across central London this month until three demands – for truth, action and a democracy fit for purpose – are met. Allied movements across 60 countries are taking action simultaneously.
Stop Ecocide considers itself a distinct yet complementary campaign; since 2017 it has been based in Stroud, the same small Cotswold town that saw the birth of Extinction Rebellion.
‘Big societal shifts – such as the civil rights movement, women getting the vote and the abolition of the slave trade – have always been driven by large grassroots mobilisations, supported by legislative changes. XR and the Youth Strikes have woken the world up to the problem. Ecocide law is a concrete legislative solution we can now demand of our governments, to protect the Earth and future generations.’
Co-founder of Stop Ecocide
Prosecution for ecocide
Establishing ecocide as an atrocity crime at the International Criminal Court would make large-scale and systematic damage to ecosystems illegal. It would make those in positions of superior responsibility liable to criminal prosecution as individuals, just as they would if they ordered or permitted a massacre.
‘Ecocide is not just about CO2 emissions’, explains Jojo Mehta, co-founder of Stop Ecocide. ‘It’s also about deforestation, biodiversity loss, water pollution, soil depletion, overfishing, industrial farming, oil spills. It criminalises any activity leading to widespread, long-term or severe loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems, including ways of life dependent on those ecosystems.
‘With this one simple legal change, serious harm to the Earth can be prevented. When government ministers can no longer issue permits for it, when insurers can no longer underwrite it, when investors can no longer back it, when CEOs can be held criminally responsible for it, the harm will stop. Ecocide law is the missing piece to create climate and ecological justice.
In order to add ecocide to the Rome Statute, the document governing the International Criminal Court, any member Head of State may propose an amendment. With a two-thirds majority the amendment can be adopted and enforced by those who ratify (to enforce for all members a seven-eighths majority is required).
The campaign invites people to become ‘Earth Protectors’ by gifting into a Trust Fund ring-fenced to support the progress of an ecocide amendment to the Rome Statute.
‘The moment of proposal is key’, Jojo adds, ‘because when a crime of ecocide becomes visible on the horizon, civil society across the world has a powerful lever to pressure their own governments. To this end, we have been working with small climate-vulnerable Pacific island states who have the incentive and also the power to propose an amendment. So this is not just a great idea – it’s already under discussion.’
An unusual feature of the campaign is that the Earth Protectors Trust Fund document has been apostilled in virtually every jurisdiction in the world, giving it weight in a court of law.
It has been used by some activists in criminal trials as primary evidence of their status as ‘Conscientious Protectors’, underlining their human right to Freedom of Conscience and enabling them to bring evidence supporting their motivation for taking peaceful direct action.