Ecocide

Introduction

Ecocide - Research Guide International Law

“Ecocide, the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished” – Polly Higgins

This Research Guide is prepared for the Institute for Environmental Security  to support their activities and research in the field of Ecocide. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library’s keyword Ecocide is instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest. This guide will be updated regularly.

Publications and reports obtained through the Institute fo Environmental Security will be catalogued and also made available for the public. This unique cooperation between the Peace Palace Library and the Institute for Environmental Security will enrich the Peace Palace Library collection on International Environmental Law and further worldwide research.

Cesar Chavez, an Amercian Hero. Monday 31st is Ceasr Chavez Day.

End Ecocide! ‘End Ecocide in Europe’ is a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), a democratic tool that enables EU citizens to propose amendments to European law and participate directly in the development of EU policies. Unlike other petitions, an ECI legal authority to influence politics. According to the initiative, if at least one million EU citizens from seven different countries support a petition, the proposal must be discussed at European level.

Earth first? Bolivia’s Mother earth Law meets the Neo-Extravist Economy, By Emilie Achtenberg. While the U. S. courts have granted civil rights to corporations, Bolivia has enacted a new law enshrining the legal rights of nature…

Uganda High Court Rules in Favor of Plastic Bag Ban. The High Court of Uganda has determined that “the rampant and uncontrolled use of polythene bags” poses a danger to the environment and “violates the rights of citizens of Uganda to a clean and healthy environment.”

Special report: The Tampakan project: battle over Southeast Asia’s largest copper-gold reserve (1), by Bong S. Samiento

The Tampakan prject: battle over Southeast Asia’s copper-gold deposit (2), by Bong S. Samiento

An Environmental Bill of Rights for Canada?  An interview with environmental lawyer David Boyd.

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  • Svatikova, K., Economic Criteria for Criminalization: Optimizing Enforcement in Case of Environmental Violations, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2012.

    Svatikova, K., Economic Criteria for Criminalization: Optimizing Enforcement in Case of Environmental Violations, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2012.

    Why should criminal law be used to enforce environmental violations? Aren’t administrative sanctions, particularly administrative fines, more efficient to use? This book examines the question why – from an economic perspective – society should enforce certain violations through criminal law, while others through private or administrative law. The findings of this analysis show that the enforcement through criminal law should be used only in limited circumstances, i.e. when (1) harm is large and/or immaterial and/or diffuse and/or remote; (2) stigma is desired; (3) the probability of detection is low; and (4) the criminal enforcement costs are sufficiently low. Under these circumstances, criminal enforcement seems to be the efficient instrument to use. This framework was applied to the enforcement of environmental violations in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and the Flemish Region in Belgium. The empirical assessment of these four jurisdictions showed that there is definitely a role for administrative sanctions, which could be a cost-effective instrument to deal with environmental violations. The relevant factors in assessing whether administrative fines are welfare enhancing are the distribution of abatement costs among firms, the marginal enforcement costs and the probability of detection and sanctioning. The analysis shows that in order to benefit from having two separate systems of laws, namely the criminal and the administrative, procedural differences should be maintained, since they have an economic justification.

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  • Higgins, P., Earth is Our Business: Changing the Rules of the Game, London, Shepheard-Walwyn, 2012.

    Higgins, P., Earth is Our Business: Changing the Rules of the Game, London, Shepheard-Walwyn, 2012.

    Earth is our Business takes forward the argument of Polly Higgins’ first book, Eradicating Ecocide. This book proposes new Earth law, but it is also about something more than law: it advocates a new form of leadership which places the health and well-being of people and planet first. Polly Higgins shows how law can provide the tools and be a bridge to a new way of doing business. She argues, in fact, that Earth is the business of us all, not the exclusive preserve of the executives of the world’s top corporations. Expanding on the proposal in her first book to make Ecocide an international crime, this book sets out the institutional framework for sustainable development and international environmental governance. It proposes new rules of the game to transform our economies, energy supplies and political landscape in a radical, but practical, way. The implications of Polly Higgins’ proposal are far-reaching and profound. Like her award-winning first book, Earth is our Business is written for anyone who is engaging in the new and emerging discourse about the future of our planet. Instead of merely examining the problem, Earth is our Business sets out a solution: new rules of the game. They are, says Polly Higgins, a new set of laws based on the sacredness of all life. Included as appendices are a draft Ecocide Act, a proposal for revising World Bank investment rules, and the indictment used in the mock Ecocide Trial held in the UK Supreme Court in September 2011. Polly Higgins, barrister and international environmental lawyer, proposed to the United Nations in April 2010 that Ecocide be classed as the 5th Crime Against Peace alongside Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes of Aggression and War Crimes. In June 2012 world leaders will meet in Rio for the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Summit to discuss global governance mechanisms for creating a green economy. Making Ecocide a crime will be among the issues raised.

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  • White, R.D. (ed.), Global Environmental Harm: Criminological Perspectives, London, Routledge, 2011.

    White, R.D. (ed.), Global Environmental Harm: Criminological Perspectives, London, Routledge, 2011.

    Issues such as climate change, disposal of toxic waste and illegal fishing have generated increasing attention within criminological circles in recent years. This book brings together original cutting edge work that deals with global environmental harm from a wide variety of geographical and critical perspectives. It includes writers from countries such as Australia, Canada, the United States, South Africa, Japan, China, The Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom. The topics covered in the book are global, regional and local in nature, although in each case there are clear transnational or global dimensions. The book explores topics that provide theoretical, methodological and substantive insights into the nature and dynamics of environmental harm, and the transference of this harm across regions, continents and globally. Specific topics include the criminal nature of global warming, an ethnographic study of pollution and consciousness of environmental harm, environmental destruction associated with huge industrial developments, chaos theory and environmental social justice, de-forestation as a global phenomenon, illegal trade in endangered species, and transference of toxicity. The collection as a whole reinforces the importance of eco-global criminology as a dynamic paradigm for theory and action on environmental issues in the 21st century. The book features contributions from different parts of the world, each with its own unique perspective on and analysis of specific types of environmental harm. Global warming and the many environmental harms identified in this book are the vital issues of our age. Accordingly, the criminological perspectives presented herein are important both in discerning the nature and complexities of these harms and, ultimately, in forging responses to them.

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  • Zierler, D., The Invention of Ecocide: Agent Orange, Vietnam, and the Scientists Who Changed the Way We Think about the Environment, Athens, GA (etc.), University of Georgia Press, 2011.

    Zierler, D., The Invention of Ecocide: Agent Orange, Vietnam, and the Scientists Who Changed the Way We Think about the Environment, Athens, GA (etc.), University of Georgia Press, 2011.

    As the public increasingly questioned the war in Vietnam, a group of American scientists deeply concerned about the use of Agent Orange and other herbicides started a movement to ban what they called “ecocide.” David Zierler traces this movement, starting in the 1940s, when weed killer was developed in agricultural circles and theories of counterinsurgency were studied by the military. These two trajectories converged in 1961 with Operation Ranch Hand, the joint U.S.-South Vietnamese mission to use herbicidal warfare as a means to defoliate large areas of enemy territory. Driven by the idea that humans were altering the world’s ecology for the worse, a group of scientists relentlessly challenged Pentagon assurances of safety, citing possible long-term environmental and health effects. It wasn’t until 1970 that the scientists gained access to sprayed zones confirming that a major ecological disaster had occurred. Their findings convinced the U.S. government to renounce first use of herbicides in future wars and, Zierler argues, fundamentally reoriented thinking about warfare and environmental security in the next forty years. Incorporating in-depth interviews, unique archival collections, and recently declassified national security documents, Zierler examines the movement to ban ecocide as it played out amid the rise of a global environmental consciousness and growing disillusionment with the containment policies of the cold war era.

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  • Higgins, P., Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of Our Planet, London, Shepheard-Walwyn, 2010.

    Higgins, P., Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of Our Planet, London, Shepheard-Walwyn, 2010.
    This book highlights the need for enforceable, legally binding mechanisms in national and international law to hold to account perpetrators of long term severe damage to the environment. At this critical juncture in history it is vital that we set global standards of accountability for corporations, in order to put an end to the culture of impunity and double standards that pervade the international legal system. Polly Higgins illustrates how this can be achieved in her invaluable new book. Bianca Jagger, Founder and Chair of Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation Advocate for Crimes Against Present and Future Generations In Eradicating Ecocide, international environment lawyer and activist Polly Higgins sets out to demonstrate in no uncertain terms how our planet is fast being destroyed by the activities of corporations and governments, facilitated by ‘compromise’ laws that offer insufficient deterrence. She offers a solution that is radical but, as she explains with great competence and experience, absolutely necessary. The recent Mexican Gulf oil spill is a compelling reminder of the consequences of unchecked ecocide. Higgins advocates the introduction of a new international law against Ecocide. It would become the 5th Crime Against Peace and would hold to account heads of corporate bodies that are found guilty of perpetrating ecocide. The opportunity to implement this law represents a crossroads in the fate of humanity; we can accept this one change and in doing so save our ecosystem for future generations, or we can continue to destroy it, risking future brutal war over disappearing natural resources. This is the first book to explain that we all have a commanding voice and the power to call upon all our governments to change the existing rules of the game. Higgins presents examples of laws in other countries which have succeeded in curtailing the power of governments, corporations and banks and made a sudden and effective change, demonstrating that her proposal is not impossible. Eradicating Ecocide is a crash course on what laws work, what doesn’t and what else is needed to prevent the imminent disaster of global collapse. Eradicating Ecocide provides a comprehensive overview of what needs to be done in order to prevent ecocide. It is a book providing a template of a body of laws for all governments to implement, which applies equally to smaller communities and anyone who is involved in decision-making.
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  • Broswimmer, F.J., Ecocide: A Short History of the Mass Extinction of Species, London, Pluto Press, 2002.

    Broswimmer, F.J., Ecocide: A Short History of the Mass Extinction of Species, London, Pluto Press, 2002.
    At the dawn of the 21st century, it is clear that changes of enormous ecological significance are occuring on our planet. The ozone layer is beginning to disintegrate. Since 1970 the world’s forests have almost halved. A quarter of the world’s fish have been depleted. We live in an age of ecocide. 70% of biologists believe the world is now in the midst of the fastest mass extinction of species in the planet’s 4.5 billion-year history. Biodiversity loss is rated as a more serious environmental problem than the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, or pollution and contamination. How have we come to this, and what can be done to conserve our environment for the future? Ecocide: A Short History of the Mass Extinction of Species examines the facts behind the figures to offer a disturbing account of the ecological impact that the human species has on the planet. Research specialist Franz Broswimmer shows how we are wilfully destroying our world. Highlighting important countermovements who are working for ecological democracy, this unique book is essential for anyone who cares about conserving our environment for the future.
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