It is against the law to steal from or hurt other people, and it is against the law to kill another person.  However, it is not currently against the law to wilfully harm the environment for human gain.

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If Ecocide were recognised as a Crime

Campaigners believe that the crime of ecocide should become one of those managed by the International Criminal Court, which can currently prosecute four crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

At the moment, any environmental damage can only be seen as criminal on a global scale if it affects one of these other four areas. It does not currently protect the environment against harm that happens as a result of human activity in times of peace.  Individual countries have their own rules and regulations, but campaigners, such as the Stop Ecocide Foundation Panel, believe that environmental destruction will continue on a mass scale until a global law is created.

If ecocide were recognised in global law, then companies and corporations would be held responsible for environmental damage, such as that caused by oil spills, and people from those companies could be arrested for causing damage to ecosystems.  They would have to carefully consider their actions in drilling into the sea for oil or clearing forests and pumping toxic waste into ecosystems - they would have to take the environment more seriously and would not escape without serious punishment. 

Jojo Mehta, co-founder of the Stop Ecocide campaign, believes that enshrining ecocide in law would also create a change in people’s perceptions of the seriousness of environmental crimes.

“If something’s a crime, we place it below a moral red line. At the moment, you can still go to the government and get a permit to frack or mine or drill for oil, whereas you can’t just get a permit to kill people, because it’s criminal,” she says. “Once you set that parameter in place, you shift the cultural mindset as well as the legal reality.”

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