European Parliament calls for the inclusion of ecocide in EU law
The European Parliament yesterday announced its support for the inclusion of “ecocide” in the European Union’s revised environmental crime directive. A specific definition for the “gravest crimes” – severe and either widespread or long-term or irreversible – is included (more information on the decision). This is the first time that ecocide has been included in a legislative text at the European level. It is a major step forward for including ecocide among the other “crimes against peace” at the International Criminal Court.
The Nordic ecumenical councils have engaged in the issue, sending a supporting letter to Members of Parliament representing Sweden, Finland and Denmark to encourage voting in favour of including a crime of ecocide.
“Today, we as churches celebrate together with many others the support of an ecocide law by the European parliament. Those juridical demands echo the prophets cry for a justice within the boundaries of creation. This is a cause we will continue to work for in concrete action and humble prayer“, says Benjamin Ulbricht, Secretary of Theology and Sustainability at the Swedish Council of Churches.
When we understand the gravity of the situation for the living systems on the planet, we must act for more appropriate rules on a global scale. Henrik Grape, senior advisor on Care for Creation, Sustainability and Climate Justice at the World Council of Churches, makes the connection between care for the Earth and justice:
“After meeting with people from the Catholic Church in Brazil and the fight against the mining industry in their country, the devastation mining does to people and nature, I am more convinced than ever that we need ecocide law. As people of faith we cannot assert that the Earth is ours; we are relying on Earth. As humans we have a responsibility to act when we see abuse and wanton acts committed. To protect life on Earth we need to rethink what it is to be human. As a result of this we must have laws that protect our home from activities that threaten the gift of life.“
Faith communities have a significant voice in this matter, as ecocide law is a legal tool to protect fundamental values, placing the wellbeing of people and nature first.
“I hope that the initiative taken by the Nordic ecumenical councils inspires more faith communities to do the same: create awareness and support from their governments, says” Pella Thiel, initiator of Faith for ecocide law. It matters a lot that we encourage our leaders to do what needs to be done to respect the living systems that we are a part of, and the possibility to legislate at international level is just not well known yet.
The final stage for ecocide to be definitively recognised in European law will be agreement from the European Council and the European Commission on the Parliament’s proposed position. Recognition of ecocide at EU level would be globally significant: all EU Member States would be required to transpose the creation of this new crime into domestic legislation and, with EU States making up over 20% of States Parties to the International Criminal Court, it would be a decisive step towards international recognition of the crime of ecocide.
“ Together we strive to end ecocide and heal the Earth. We are the temples, churches, pagodas, mosques, synagogues, cathedrals and sacred sites all around the world. With faith, hope, love and care for our common future! ”
From the Faith for Ecocide law Manifesto