The Brussels Office of the UK Law Societies held a webinar on ecocide as an international crime. The event took place on 24 February, 15:00 CET (14:00 UK) – 16:00 CET (15:00 UK). The webinar addressed questions such as how this new crime could help to reduce and prevent environmental harm, increase companies’ environmental liability, protect environmental human rights defenders against violence, harassment and intimidation, protect the human rights of people affected by environmental disasters.
The event was chaired by Rita Giannini, EU Policy Adviser from the UK Law Societies Brussels Office.
- Robert Bray - Robert Bray is a lawyer and a linguist who worked for the European Parliament from 1997 to 2017, first in the Legal Service, subsequently in the secretariats of the Committee for Legal Affairs and the Internal Market and the Committee for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection; he was Head of Unit of the secretariat of the Legal Affairs Committee. A member of ELI’s Council since 2017, he was member of the project on Business and Human Rights, where he was the co-author of the chapter on private international law. He also chaired the high-level group on corporate criminal liability and was instrumental in setting up ELI’s ecocide project, for which he is a project reporter alongside Professor Fausto Pocar.
- Mark Clough QC - Mark Clough is a senior counsel based in Dentons’ Brussels office and he is one of the leading experts on EU law, including competition law, state aid and public procurement. Mark has represented clients for more than 30 years before the EU political institutions including the European Commission, European Parliament and Council and has appeared before the EU Courts in Luxembourg as well as the UK competition authorities, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), and other UK Courts. He often collaborates on competition and EU regulatory advice with colleagues worldwide, and he is currently collaborating on EU Climate Change client projects with US colleagues. Appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1999, he is a Scottish Solicitor (2013) and an accredited CEDR Mediator (2016). Mark is a member of the team working on the ELI project on ecocide.
- Sirpa Pietikäinen is a Finnish member of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament since 2008. She is a former Finnish Minister of Environment (1991-1995). Her career at the Finnish parliament is extensive, ranging from the year 1983 to 2003. Within her work, she seeks to combine her two specialities, that of environment and economics. At the European Parliament, Ms. Pietikäinen is a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and the Women’s Right and Gender Equality Committee as well as a substitute member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee. A graduate from the Helsinki School of Economics, Ms. Pietikäinen holds MSc in Business, and teaches university courses on negotiations theory and practices. She is active in several organisations, her positions of trust including Chairmanship of the Globe EU. Ms.Pietikainen is a member of the Ecocide Parliamentary Alliance.
The presentations was followed by a Q&A session.
The full webinar recording is available here
Stop Ecocide International (SEI) are proposing to amend the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to add ecocide as the fifth international crime, alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. In this connection, on 22 June 2022 a group of independent experts including Professor Philippe Sands QC has come up with a proposed definition of the crime of ecocide for inclusion in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as a potential 5th international crime, to sit alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. In Europe, there is much interest, the Belgian Parliament having voted for an international crime of ecocide and France having included ecocide in its Climate and Resilience Act, and the matter has been debated in the House of Lords and in the Scottish Parliament.
The European Parliament has taken up this challenge; in its report on the need to revise the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) and the Environmental Crime Directive (ECD), the EP expressly requests to look into how “ecocide” can be recognised under EU law and diplomacy; to clarify key legal terms under the ELD and ECD and develop harmonised classification of environmental crimes. MEPs are the guiding force behind the Ecocide Alliance, an international parliamentary alliance for the recognition of ecocide.
The European Law Institute (ELI) has started a project on ecocide which should: (i) contribute towards making ecocide an international crime, (ii) draw up a model law for the European Union criminalising ecocide, and (iii) draw up a model law for the European Union providing for civil remedies in tort for ecocide and the implications for private international law.