Bioethics Seminar: Ecocide in the Anthropocentric Era
Humans are increasingly aware of the risk that they may cause irreversible harm to the natural environment.
From deforestation, to the destruction of natural sites during military attacks, along with ongoing illegal resource extraction, exploiting endangered species, and toxic dumping, many anthropocentric activities threaten nature.
Recent events in Ukraine, particularly the destruction of the Kakhovka dam and resulting flooding, have underlined these risks. Among the various regulatory responses that have been touted, one is the enactment of the international crime of Ecocide. Other international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, have been used to hold leaders accountable for mass atrocities in recent years. However, from a conceptual perspective, Ecocide differs from those established crimes, as the protected entity is non-anthropocentric. This distinction becomes significant in order to address the identity of the victim(s) of Ecocide, and when determining the interests of the environment.
To reconcile Ecocide with the anthropocentric framework of international criminal law, this paper examines three diverging approaches:
- Anthropomorphizing the environment in order to create a legal construct conceiving of it akin to a human
- Funneling environmental protections through representative claims by natural humans, such as environmental human rights defenders
- Re-conceptualizing international criminal law under a broader protective principle, which would encompass the protection of human and non-human entities alike.
Zoom link: https://otago.zoom.us/j/922351556