“It would be the fifth crime liable to prosecution before the International Criminal Court (ICC), alongside the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression”.
Ecocide is a serious attack on the environment, which causes major damage to one or more ecosystems, and can lead to their destruction. It is a criminal act, with the objective of completely destroying an ecosystem.
Although it was proposed for ecocide to be named an environmental crime in the 1990s, it could not obtain this title because of the reactions of several nuclearized states, such as France, Great Britain, and the United States.
Currently, discussions exist to establish a legal framework and a universal definition based on the crime against humanity, with the initiative of the association Stop Ecocide, which proposes the following definition of ecocide: “illegal or arbitrary acts committed to knowing the real likelihood that such acts will cause serious damage to the environment that is widespread or long-lasting”.
What is its place in national law?
In France, ecocide has been legislated as a crime (délit) since 2021, according to the Climate and Resilience law (loi Climat et Résilience), and in particular thanks to the Citizens’ Climate Convention (Convention citoyenne pour le climate).
More specifically, we are talking about the “crime of endangering the environment, which will penalize the deliberate endangering of the environment by deliberate violations of an obligation”, voted by the deputies in April 2021. However, this means an immense loss for the environmental acquis because the clarity and the importance of the term are minimized, and the application of ecocide is strictly limited.