Environment: Crime

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 14th July 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Whitaker Baroness Whitaker Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 9 June (HL981), what plans they have to propose amendments to the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court to include the crime of ecocide by amending preambular paragraph 2 and article 8 of the Rome Statute, as proposed by the Stop Ecocide Foundation in their document Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide, published on 22 June.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Ecocide is not a crime recognised under existing international law and there is currently no consensus on its legal definition. Its removal from the drafting process of the Rome Statute was significant in gaining agreement on the crimes included within the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction.

The Rome Statute already provides for some protections to the natural environment in armed conflict, designating intentional attacks that knowingly and excessively cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment as a war crime.

The UK's priority is to reform and strengthen the Court to function efficiently and effectively and deliver successful prosecutions. This is a major State-Party driven process where the involvement of States Parties is fundamental to success. A significant amendment such as this is unlikely to achieve the support of the 82 States necessary to pass the amendment.

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