Should harm to the environment be criminalized?

22 October 2021, 14-17:00

Further information and registration here.

The call for criminal liability for the causation of harm to the environment has been gaining renewed traction. France is drafting a law on so-called ecocide and in June 2021, the European Parliament, in its biodiversity strategy, called for the EU to promote inclusion of ecocide in the Rome Statue. Questions arise about the scope of the potential criminal definition, which court(s) should have jurisdiction and whether damage to the environment should be dealt with in the field of (international) criminal law at all.

This roundtable addresses some of the possibilities and limits of the criminalization of ecocide, reflecting on the recent work by the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide. This draft aims to embed ecocide in the Rome Statute as a fifth crime against peace. However, is it acceptable to speak of a universal humanity (singular) in the context of ecological disaster, while causes and effects are disproportionately distributed over the global north and global south?

The goal of this conversation is to critically engage with the possibility and necessity of a crime of ecocide on the (inter)national level, and to assess its future directions. We will also specifically reflect on the definition of ecocide by the expert panel.

Panel members

Keynote Speaker: Professor Philippe Sands QC, Professor of public understanding of law at University College London, and Samuel and Judith Pisar Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and President of English PEN. 

Chair: Dr Laura Burgers, Amsterdam Centre for Transformative Private Law

Prof dr Harmen van der Wilt, professor of international criminal law, University of Amsterdam