Bolsonaro and ecocide in the Amazon
- some questions answered
We've received a lot of panicked emails over the last few days from many people asking similar questions... so here are a few answers.
Can the adoption of ecocide law be speeded up?
An amendment to the Rome Statute of the International Court must be proposed by a Head of State more than 3 months prior to the Assembly of States Parties in December making next year (2020) the earliest possible opportunity to do this. We are well aware that the time is ripe.
Can you prosecute Bolsonaro at the International Criminal Court (ICC)?
We can't, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, (unlike in civil litigation) individuals and organisations don't prosecute crimes, states do - or in this case the international community via the ICC, which must have a detailed communication submitted for preliminary examination in order to commence the process. This is not something that can be put together overnight.
Secondly, although we absolutely support the broadening of existing law to include ecological and climate concerns, we are not a practising law firm but a legally focussed non-profit campaign, working to practically progress the adoption of future law. Our mission is ultimately a diplomatic one and we do not take on specific cases or represent clients in court.
The Amazon situation highlights that ecocide is MISSING from the list of prosecutable offences at the ICC. It's why our organisation exists, and why the ICC is at present powerless (with some wartime exceptions) to directly prosecute ecological destruction, however massive.
But what about Crimes Against Humanity?
We are aware that there are possibilities for including environmental crimes under some existing provisions of Crimes Against Humanity and we are conducting studies to examine this, but we are not in an evidential position to apply it to Bolsonaro ourselves (see also previous answer). Others may be.
Why are your social media feeds sharing news about Brazil but not about other fires/ecocides happening all over the world?
We are acutely aware that the Amazon is not the only place in the world suffering ecocide or indeed forest fires. We could spend all day every day sharing terrible ecocidal stories, but others can (and do) cover this. We are sharing pieces about the Amazon because of what is new, which is that headlines are specifically using the word "ecocide" to describe what is happening in conjunction with the need to legally address it... even used with that implication by the French president last week.
This is highly significant for our campaign because we are interested in having that particular conversation amplified, for obvious reasons. Our campaign is all about helping people understand that ecocide must be made a crime, and so discourse where this conjunction of concepts is emerging at head-of-state level is particularly relevant and useful.
Media article: France's Macron says real 'ecocide' going on in Amazon