The End Ecocide on Earth initiative
End Ecocide is a grassroots movement aimed at protecting ecosystems on which
all life on earth – including human – depends. The main idea is intriguingly simple:
The destruction of ecosystems must become a crime. A crime for which both,
decision-makers in business and government, as well as their organisations can be
held accountable. This crime has a name: Ecocide.
Eco-cide derives from the Greek “oikos” meaning “house” or “home” and the Latin
“caedere” meaning “stike down, demolish, kill”. It literally translates to killing our home.
Ecocide has been defined by international lawyer Polly Higgins as the extensive
damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory to such
an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or
will be severely diminished.
The proposed Ecocide crime is fundamentally different from existing environmental
legislation. First of all, it proposes the application of criminal law to cases of
environmental destruction, a novelty in many countries.
Second, it looks at entire ecosystems. While under existing law interdependencies
and connections between the elements contributing to life are neglected, the law
of ecocide prevention applies a holistic perspective and offers the possibility to
account for interdependencies.
The law of ecocide prevention further shifts the focus from assessing risks and
probabilities towards assessing potential consequences of an activity: if an activity
has potentially devastating consequences, this activity must not be allowed. This
constitutes an important change of perspectives and encourages decision-makers
to apply the precautionary principle.
The ultimate goal of the initiative is that ecocide will be recognised as a crime
around the world. This means not only national ecocide crimes in all states but
also the recognition that ecocide is an international crime which can be enforced
with an international court. To that end, ecocide should be incorporated into the
Rome Statute as international Crime against Peace under the jurisdiction of the
International Criminal Court. This can be achieved via an amendment of the Rome
Statute which the Head of any State party can propose. We advocate for ecocide
to be included as a crime without intent, applying to individuals (according to the
principle of superior responsibility) and corporations.
From the initial step of launching a European Citizen’s Initiative to the recent launch
of the Charter of Brussels and the Alliance for International Justice of the Environment
and Health, the story of End Ecocide has evolved and gained momentum. Read
more in the following pages, but first an excursion into the history of the concept.
The Center for Progressive International Law
We want to build on our substantial legal work done to this date, by strengthening our research focus. While we carry on with EEE as our campaign platform, as a response to this new objective we have elaborated our sociocratic working group ‘Law and Science’.