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Thu Jun 30 23:44:32 CEST 2016

Femke's essay is a very timely and thoughtful piece that clearly outlines
many of the reasons why the destruction of the environment in certain
circumstances might constitute an 'international crime' that should be
incorporated into the mechanisms of international criminal justice, in
particular the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC).

I have also argued for the inclusion within the ICC Statute of such a
crime, which I have called 'Crimes against the Environment'. The rationale
behind this is set out in a short opinion piece at


and in more detail in a book published last year - details at


I believe that international criminal law is one important legal tool (out
of a suite of legal tools) that can be effectively utilised to address
certain acts of deliberate environmental destruction. In my view, the
nature and scope of international criminal law, and the role of the
International Criminal Court - not to mention the politics associated with
any change to that Court's jurisdictional mandate - warrant that, at least
in the first instance, the crime to be included in the ICC Statute should
be primarily directed towards acts that demonstrate an intention to
significantly target the environment as a victim of warfare. The existing
international rules relating to warfare have in practical terms done little
to deter deliberate environmental destruction, particularly when measured
against perceived military advantages, and these needs to be urgently

At the same time, other complimentary legal tools - including national (and
regional) civil/criminal law - can and should be utilised to address other
instances of environmental damage that fall outside of this description,
but which still warrant appropriate legal sanction.

Steven Freeland


Friday, July 1, 2016

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