Iceland hopeful for results on recognition of ecocide at Council of Europe summit

The Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is hopeful that the upcoming leadership summit of the Council of Europe will produce some positive developments on the matter of ecocide. 

Jakobsdóttir expressed her optimism in the Icelandic parliament during a discussion responding to a parliamentary inquiry on the matter of ecocide from MP Andrés Ingi Jónsson of the Pirate Party on 20 March 2023.

Jónsson’s inquiry centered on the current status of his previously lodged parliamentary resolution proposing that the Icelandic government recognize ecocide as both a national and international crime and advocate for its inclusion in the governing treaty of the International Criminal Court, the Rome Statute. During this week’s plenary discussion, Jónsson asked what the government had undertaken, or was planning to do, to work on the issue of ecocide.

Jónsson holds that Iceland is in an unusually good position to use its voice on the international stage during its current presidency of the Council of Europe, where a recent resolution was passed (Jan 2023) strongly supporting recognition of ecocide.  One of the government’s priorities during the presidency is to examine the relationship between human rights and the environment. In that context, Andrés urged the minister to place the idea of ecocide firmly on the agenda.

Jakobsdóttir replied that Iceland was actively discussing ecocide internationally, not only within the Council of Europe, but also with the United Nations and the Nordic Council. She then added: “I personally think that it’s only a matter of time before this issue becomes the biggest issue in the human rights arena, although it’s going to be complicated to implement. I hope that the Council of Europe Summit will send a message in this regard.”

Jakobsdóttir further added that Ukraine’s 10-point peace plan, where the prevention of ecocide is included as one of the points, marks a milestone: “I also think – and I hope that this will be the case – since the issue of Ukraine will be discussed at the summit, that the topic belongs precisely where we intend to discuss our shared values in the field of human rights, democracy and international order. I also think that we will bring this exact issue up for discussion and I hope that we’ll get positive news.”

The Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government will be held in Reykjavík, Iceland, 16–17 May 2023. It will be chaired by Iceland and brings together heads of state and governments from the Council’s 46 member states. An ecocide resolution was submitted to the parliament of Iceland on 22 March 2022, calling for support for an international crime of ecocide as well as national ecocide legislation. It enjoyed cross party support from four out of the eight parties in parliament, and was referred to the government on 16 June 2022.

Information courtesy of Stop Ecocide International.

Photo: News Øresund – Erik Ottosson © News Øresund – Erik Ottosson



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