Report to Ukraine government recommends ecocide law

The High-Level Group on the Environmental Consequences of the War in Ukraine recommends making ecocide a crime.

Just short of two years after the invasion of Ukraine, the “High-Level Group on the Environmental Consequences of the War”, co-chaired by Margot Wallström, presented its report to the government of Ukraine. One of the recommendations is:

“The Assembly of States Parties to the ICC should consider incorporating ecocide as a core international crime within the Rome Statute.”

“The damage is extensive. We must seek to fully understand the environmental consequences of this war, and take all measures to stop the harm and immediately address the damage already done”, reads the report An Environmental Compact for Ukraine.

The report contains 50 recommendations. Just over half of them are addressed to the Ukrainian government, the rest are addressed to the international community and to civil society.

“This has never happened before in history, when a country at war not only thinks, but works to restore the environment, punish the guilty, and also show the whole world what and how can and should be done to ensure the future for the next generations,” says Andriy Yermak, head of the President’s office and co-chair of the group.

“The environmental direction aims at developing and implementing a comprehensive plan for Ukraine’s environmental recovery from the consequences of the war. The appropriate mechanisms that will be developed for Ukraine and applied should be universal and effectively prevent crimes against the environment in the world, be reflected in the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly and other documents of the international law system,” says Yermak.

As Margot Wallström says, what is happening in Ukraine today is important for the entire world.

Her conviction is that: “We must have a strong response to the war against the environment and support all efforts to hold those responsible for these crimes accountable.”

Ecocide was part of the peace plan presented by Zelenskyy back in 2022, and Ukraine is one of the countries that already has ecocide in national legislation. Now the working group calls on Ukraine to analyze the benefits of ratifying the Rome Statute. The task force also recommends that the ICC prosecutor consider whether the case of the Kakhovka dam collapse can be prosecuted under Article 8, which regulates environmental damage in connection with war. And the states that are parties to the ICC “should consider incorporating ecocide as a core international crime in the Rome Statute. This would strengthen the possibility of justice for such crimes in the future.”

“Ukraine is pushing for justice for nature and asking for help”, says Rebecka Le Moine, Swedish MP and member of the working group. “This is a strong signal to the international community, an encouragement to nations and their heads of state to join the growing number of supporters of an international law on ecocide.”

“It was during the Vietnam War that the concept of ecocide saw the light of day”, says Pia Björstrand, chair of End Ecocide Sweden. “Perhaps it is now, in the context of another war, that the international community can come together to introduce the legislation that was needed already half a century ago.”

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