The Global Greens Backs Inclusion of Ecocide as a Crime Against Humanity
By Daniel Otunge
In June this year, the Global Greens, met at the Songdo Convention in Incheon City, South Korea with a mission to foster a united front against nature’s most serious threats: the climate emergency and biodiversity loss.
The Global Greens is a group of four independent federations of green political parties and movements established regionally in Africa, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.
The group also fights against social injustices and attacks on democracy because, without social justice and democracy, people and nature suffer in the bloody hands of absolute and electoral autocrats.
In the Korean Declaration, the group committed “to work together to build…a sustainable and just world, where “actions on the climate crisis, biodiversity conservation, social justice, peace, and democracy” are prioritized.
The Korean Declaration calls for urgent actions on five key areas including climate crises, biodiversity loss, social justice, peace and security and democracy. Here is what it says about climate and biodiversity.
Given the existential threat posed by the climate change emergency and the short window for change as outlined in the Paris Agreement, The Global Greens calls for immediate and ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. It calls for the protection and preservation of ecosystems and natural resources as vital tools in climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.
For example, it supports an urgent transition to a low-carbon, circular and resilient economy. It also routes for the promotion of less energy and resource consumption, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and a just transition.
The group recognizes the fact that countries and people least responsible for the climate crises are bearing the biggest impacts. Thus, it calls for international cooperation and collaboration to implement effective climate policies, ensuring that all nations contribute their fair share to combat climate change with shared but differentiated responsibilities. This, they argue rightly, will cushion such developing countries and their citizens against the impacts of climate change, and reduce conflicts and displacement of persons and refugees.
Shared but differentiated responsibilities according to capabilities are one of the fundamental principles of international environmental law. It obligates rich nations, which are the main producers of greenhouse gasses that are wreaking havoc on the global climate, to contribute more towards climate change mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage.
The group recognizes that nature and biodiversity are the foundations of the world and that humanity inherently relies on them for lives and livelihoods. They posit correctly that the climate and biodiversity crises are indelibly interlinked.
Consequently, the group advocates for the legal recognition of Ecocide and the legal rights of nature, and effective frameworks to regulate and protect nature and biodiversity. They argue that such legal frameworks should “provide an effective political opportunity to swiftly support climate and ecological goals.”
Under the auspices of STOP Ecocide International, Ecocide has been defined as the unlawful or wanton act committed with the knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts. The aim is to have ecocide included as a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Further, the Global Greens calls for the adoption of “sustainable agricultural practices, promoting biodiversity-friendly farming methods that preserve soil health, protect pollinators, and reduce the use of harmful chemicals.”
Additionally, and in line with provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the group advocates for the establishment and effective management of protected areas, both on land and in the oceans, to safeguard biodiversity and preserve fragile ecosystems.
Similarly, it supports equitable sharing of benefits derived from genetic resources and respect for the rights and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities as stipulated in the CBD.
The groups argue that the above cannot be achieved in the absence of social justice, peace and security and a thriving democracy. The global decline of democracy should therefore be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Africa, for example, has experienced multiple military takeovers in several states, especially in West and Central Africa (Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Gabon, etc.) in the last three years. The continent is full of absolute and electoral autocrats. Constitutions are altered frequently to keep the strongmen in power until they die or are overthrown. The majority of African countries can be said to have constitutions but lack constitutionalism.
One may wonder whether Fareed Zakaria’s scary prediction about democracy in his essay—The Rise of Illiberal Democracy—has found a permanent home in Africa, where presidential elections(Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Gabon, Zimbabwe, etc., to name just but a few recent ominous examples) are more of a public relations exercise than a serious effort to give people a chance to exercise their democratic right to elect persons of their choice to govern them.
To be sure, this disease is not confined to Africa as illiberal tendencies, absolute and electoral autocracy are written all over Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and the Global North, which makes the situation deeply concerning.
Under such dark circumstances, nature and biodiversity must inevitably suffer immensely as evidenced by the climate emergency among other polycrises rocking humanity.
The writer is a specialist in Environmental Law and Communication.