Making Ecocide an International Crime

Why Earth Destruction is a Crime

VPRO (2015)

Film Review

This is a documentary about the late Scottish lawyer Polly Higgins and Spanish jurist Baltazar Garzon and their efforts to have the UN declare ecocide (damage to the Earth) a crime against humanity.

Higgins who died unexpectedly in April, gave up her corporate law practice in 2010 to mobilize support for an amendment to the UN Rome Statute defining crimes against humanity. This would make corporate executives (rather than corporation) personally responsible for environmental crimes committed by their companies. Higgins believed the interests of the Earth could only be protected by international law, as most countries have laws requiring corporations to put shareholders above any other interests.

Garzon, a former Spanish judge, first attracted international prominence in 2000 for having former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet arrested in London for crimes against humanity. The jurist presently serves on Julian Assange’s legal team. With his daughter Maria’s help, he has established a nonprofit foundation to assist communities sue international corporations whose mining and international activities have destroyed ecosystems they rely on for their basic needs.

In the early 70s, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme launched the first campaign to have the UN declare ecocide as a crime against humanity. He did so in reaction to America’s total decimation of Vietnam’s jungle habitat via Agent Orange and indiscriminate bombing,  Although Palme was assassinated in 1986, his supporters’ resolution was nearly adopted in 1996. Unfortunately backdoor lobbying by  the US, UK, France and the Netherlands blocked the UN General Assembly from adopting it.

 

2 thoughts on “Making Ecocide an International Crime

  1. It was sad to hear Polly Higgins died at such a young age, especially since she was so informed on the issues surrounding legalities concerning intentional harming of the environment. It would not surprise to learn she had been given the “Hugo Chavez Treatment”, otherwise known as assassination by cancer.

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  2. It was especially hard for us here in New Plymouty, Jerry. We were organizing public livestreaming the Findhorn conference on Climate Change and Consciousness at the library and she was due to deliver the final keynote. We only learned about her diagnosis the day before the conference began. She herself had only known for a few weeks. Hard to say whether she was deliberately given cancer. Breast cancer has become so common.

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