Ecocide Laws: Defending the Environment and Addressing Issues

  • Due to its scope and potential effects on the environment, Mexico’s “Maya train” project has stirred up debate.
  • With a $20 billion price tag, the project intends to link visitors to important Maya monuments along a 1,525 km circuit.
  • Its hazards to the environment, Indigenous populations, and cave systems have earned it the moniker “megaproject of death” from its detractors, who have also accused it of ecocide and ethnocide.

Recognising Ecocide

  • The word “ecocide” is derived from the Greek and Latin words for “killing one’s home” and “environment.”
  • It includes practises like deforestation, illegal sand mining, polluting rivers, and port developments that harm marine life.
  • Several nations, notably Mexico, are considering enacting ecocide laws in response to proposals to classify it as a global crime comparable to genocide.
  • Ecocide does not have a generally recognised legal meaning.
  • It is described as “illegal or wanton acts committed with knowledge of causing substantial, severe, and either widespread or long-term environmental damage.”

Historical Setting

  • Biologist Arthur Galston made the connection between environmental degradation and genocide in 1970, following the usage of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.
  • In 2010, British attorney Polly Higgins pushed for the classification of ecocide as a global crime.
  • Only purposeful environmental harm caused during times of conflict is subject to prosecution under the Rome Statute of the ICC, which covers four primary crimes.

Why Ecocide Should Be Considered a Crime

  • In 11 nations, ecocide is illegal, and 27 more are considering adopting similar legislation.
  • Including ecocide in the statute received a unanimous vote in the European Parliament.
  • An essential legal tool for defending the environment is provided by ecocide legislation.
  • They can encourage ethical investment practises and hold members of company leadership accountable.
  • Low- and middle-income nations who are disproportionately impacted by climate change may receive justice thanks to these rules.

Concerns and Restrictions

  • Some contend that unclear definitions of ecocide result in a low bar for accusing parties.
  • Unintentionally, the idea might imply that destroying the environment for human gain is acceptable.
  • Ecocide may be difficult to prove, particularly when multinational crimes involving businesses are involved.
  • Concerns include the ICC’s limited authority, inability to hold corporate corporations accountable, and inconsistent history of obtaining convictions.

India’s Stance

  • In several rulings, India has acknowledged nature’s legal personhood.
  • Although the phrase “ecocide” has appeared in some Indian court rulings, it hasn’t totally permeated the legal system.
  • Diverse environmental regulations are included in India’s legal framework; these laws require consolidation and simplification.
  • Some crucial environmental issues fall outside the National Green Tribunal’s purview.
  • As evidenced by situations like the Bhopal gas accident and the misuse of the CAMPA money, dealing with problems of culpability and compensation is still difficult.
  • India has to incorporate the idea of ecocide into its environmental legislation.

@the end

  • Ecocide laws are essential for safeguarding the environment and bringing offenders to justice.
  • The difficulties in identifying, demonstrating, and punishing ecocide must be overcome, nevertheless.
  • In order to promote a more thorough approach to environmental preservation, India has to modernise its environmental legislation to include ecocide concepts.
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