Human rights and the environment – increasingly important issues for companies and their advisors

On March 7, 2024 the Swedish Bar Association and Ecocide Law Alliance, together with law firms Cirio and Mannheimer Swartling, hosted solicitors and commercial lawyers at a seminar on human rights and the environment.

Eva-Maj Mühlenbock, President of the Swedish Bar Association

The purpose of the seminar was to inform participants of the growing movement to make ecocide an international crime and to clarify why Swedish lawyers should get involved.

The president of the Swedish Bar Association Eva-Maj Mühlenbock, and Emma Dansbo, managing partner at Cirio, welcomed participants to the seminar, recalled the seminar held in conjunction with the UN Stockholm+50 conference two years ago, and highlighted the considerable progress made since then. Both the Rome Statute and the term ecocide have become more generally known, particularly on account of the war against Ukraine and president Zelenskyy’s call to hold Russia accountable for the crimes committed against the Ukrainian people, crimes which include ecocide.

Nina Macpherson, chair of the Ecocide Law Alliance foundation, gave a brief introduction to ecocide law, the role of the foundation to engage the business community in the efforts to make ecocide a crime within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the ICC, and of recent developments such as the SPP pension fund declaring its strong support.

Analysis and perspectives on the correlation between existing legal procedures and environmental regulations and the possible future adoption of ecocide as an environmental crime, were provided by the following speakers:

Helena Jäderblom, president of Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court.

Helena Jäderblom, president of Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court and former judge of the European Court of Human Rights, described how environmental disputes are handled based on the European Convention (the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms).

Marie Jacobsson, former ambassador and the Principal Legal Adviser on International Law at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and a former member of the UN International Law Commission, spoke about allocating responsibility for environmental destruction in the present war of aggression on Ukraine.

Jonas Ebbesson, Professor of Environmental Law and Nina Macpherson, Chair of Ecocide Law Alliance.

Professor of Environmental Law and Director of Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre at Stockholm University, Jonas Ebbesson, discussed the need for companies to be held responsible for cross-border environmental damage in addition to individuals’ criminal liability.

The seminar was booked out by lawyers from different fields and the audience showed keen interest in the issues discussed. Ecocide Law Alliance hopes to follow up after the summer with a seminar in cooperation with Roschier Law Firm. Stay tuned!

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