GoJIL Vol. 11, No. 1 (2021)
Perspectives for a New International Crime Against the Environment: International Criminal Responsibility for Environmental Degradation under the Rome Statute
Ammar Bustami and Marie-Christine Hecken
This article draws attention to the need of a reform of the environmental protection by means of international criminal law as enshrined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. After giving a short overview of the contemporary environmental protection in war- and peacetime offered by international criminal law, it becomes clear that international criminal law fails to succeed at offering sufficient environmental protection. This paper outlines that there is no convincing reason for a differentiated approach in international criminal law to environmental damage in wartime and in peacetime, and that a shift from an anthropocentric to an ecocentric approach would positively contribute to a more effective protection of the environment. It is therefore argued for the introduction of a new integral and ecocentric international crime against the environment in the Rome Statute. The paper then elaborates on existing proposals on such a new crime against the environment before some proper observations on the exact contours of the crime are made. A focus lies on the new crime’s threshold of seriousness as well as on the necessary mens rea requirements. The insufficiency of the contemporary legal framework and the merits of a new crime against the environment are exemplified by an archetype example of peacetime environmental damage, the Chevron/Texaco oil spill scenario in Ecuador.
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