Introduce a Stop Ecocide law
Introduce a law which prohibits severe or long-term damage to the environment.
The idea of including ecocide as an international crime has developed momentum in recent decades through the work of academics, lawyers and campaign organisations.
‘Ecocide’ can be defined as ‘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.’ 35
Campaign group Stop Ecocide International36 is working towards making ecocide an international crime. Perhaps the most likely route would be to amend the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to include the crime of ecocide.
Recently, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament unanimously recommended that the European Union should criminalise ecocide and the European Parliament declared its support of the inclusion of ecocide-level crimes in the European Union’s revised Directive on protection of the environment through criminal law.
Globally there are at least 12 national ecocide laws including Ecuador, France, Georgia and Ukraine,37 and proposals have been tabled for similar laws in a number of countries, including Belgium and most recently Brazil.38
Labour MSP Monica Lennon has been actively promoting the idea in Scotland, including calling for an ecocide law in Scotland.
Despite its commitment to keep pace with environmental law developments the Scottish Government did not mention the idea of an Ecocide law in its recent consultation on the effectiveness of environmental governance in Scotland.39 It should work with interested parties to develop proposals for a Scottish law on ecocide and support international efforts to make it a crime recognised by international law.
For further information:
- Ecocide: a crime against the planet, Law Society of Scotland Journal, 2021, https://www.lawscot.org.uk/members/journal/issues/vol-66-issue-10/ecocide-a-crime-against-the-planet/
- Monica Lennon MSP’s Scottish Stop Ecocide Campaign https://www.ecocidelaw.scot
Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide, Commentary and Core Text, Stop Ecocide Foundation, 2021, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ca2608ab914493c64ef1f6d/t/60d7479cf8e7e5461534dd07/1624721314430/SE+Foundation+Commentary+and+core+text+revised+%281%29.pdf
Stop Ecocide International home page, https://www.stopecocide.earth
Ecocide Laws in National Jurisdictions, Ecocide Law, 2022, https://ecocidelaw.com/existing-ecocide-laws/
Ecocide Bill Submitted to Congress in Brazil, Stop Ecocide International, June 2023, https://www.stopecocide.earth/breaking-news-2023/ecocide-bill-submitted-to-congress-in-brazil
Report into the Effectiveness of Governance Arrangements, as required by section 41 of The Environment Strategy for Scotland: (Continuity) (Scotland) Act 2021 the UK Withdrawal from the European Union Progress Report to the Parliament, Scottish Government, May 2023, https://www.gov.scot/publications/report-effectiveness-environmental-governance-arrangements/