Ecocide a crime against humanity

A UN report found that in 2008 a large number of the world’s biggest corporations caused $2.2 trillion of ecocide, but a recent discovery has found that the law of Ecocide had been considered an international crime over 15 years ago.  Over 7,000 people gathered in Stockholm in 1972 to demand that ecocide be a crime.

1985 saw a significant shift in the campaign with the Code of Crimes against the peace and security of mankind being drafted. For the next 11 years the UN fervently discussed and debated the research. Since then 10 countries have already implemented national laws making ecocide a crime. As well as producing research the project aims to stimulate global discussion between academics, activists and policy makers by hosting events, conferences, workshops and short courses. Helping to promote peace and prosperity.

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So what is ecocide? The legal definition is: the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished. This damage comes at an enormous cost. The destruction of habitats, the depletion of soil and deforestation all lead to natural cycles being disrupted around the world.

In April 2010 a proposal was submitted to the UN by Polly Higgins for ecocide to be made the 5th international crime against peace. The Eradicate Ecocide Movement’s main aim is to prevent ecocide occurring in the first place, imposing a legal duty of care on companies to place environmental considerations first and to make those who cause ecocide criminally liable. Ecocide sends a powerful message to the world and creates responsibility at national and international level. The movement plans to implement restoration rather than just getting those responsible to pay fines, ensuring a shift from personal interest to public, environmental and interest within society.

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The top ten locations where ecocide occurs are:

  • Alberta Tar Sands
  • North Pacific Gyre
  • Niger Delta
  • Deep water mining
  • Lusi mud volcano in Indonesia
  • Bingham canyon copper mine
  • Toxic dumping by Chevron Texaco in Ecuador
  • Tianying Anhui province in China
  • The Amazon
  • Oil extraction in the Arctic

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It’s not all doom and gloom there are things that we can do by getting involved in campaigning for the movement through government and local politicians, You can sign petitions from organisations like Avaaz by going to www.avaaz.org. Hosting talks in schools and colleges is an effective way to engage youth groups and getting schools involved. Healthy Planet offers schools free resources for young or old inspiring change and positive action, offering free lesson plans and books for pupils. You can get information on this by visiting www.healthyplanet.org/projects/schools.aspx

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