A few hours ago in The Hague at the highest court, the international criminal court (ICC) – originally convened to indict war crimes and crimes against humanity – is now examining the crime of massive destruction of the environment — ecocide.
The panel discussion entitled “The destruction of ecosystems and its impact on indigenous communities: a role for the ICC?” laid out the connection between the destruction of the environment and the eradication of indigenous culture – the connection between ecocide and genocide.
Predatory capitalism has been devastating to indigenous communities throughout the world and especially in the destruction of Amazonian rain forest. A gross example is the intentional dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water and 17 million gallons of crude oil in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Though it has devastated communities and ecosystems, it has gone unpunished, and tragically this has become more the norm of how corporations are operating.
Global Witness reports that there is no other recourse for indigenous communities than to protest the destruction of their homelands. The domestic courts betray them, the police will not protect them, and increasingly they are murdered.
Globally, we are experiencing mass extinction, climate instability, virulent disease, and murder of indigenous front-line activist. All of this points to the predation of capitalism. Is there a role for the ICC? Most emphatically yes. Criminalizing ecocide is essential to protection of the life systems we depend upon.