Belgium could be the first country in Europe to recognize the crime of “ecocide”: what does this mean?
We are on the eve of the end of COP26, the United Nations climate conference. And Belgium could appear at the forefront of a fight for the preservation of the environment. Our country could be the first in Europe to recognize “ecocide” as a crime and an international crime.
The Belgian Parliament voted on Tuesday for a resolution asking the executive to make a commitment to have the crime of “ecocide” recognized and punished by international justice, in the same way as crimes against humanity. “We are referring to major events that massively destroy ecosystems which could, in this case, fall back under the notion of ecocide and fall under the jurisdiction of the international criminal court.», Explains Carine Thibaut, spokesperson for Greenpeace Belgium, to our journalists RTL INFO.
This vote by a large majority in committee must still be confirmed in plenary session in the Chamber within “two to three weeks”, which promises to be a formality, according to one of the initiators of the text, the federal deputy Ecolo, signatory of the resolution on “ecocide”, Samuel Cogolati. “It is true that with this vote, the Belgian Parliament becomes the first to ask for the recognition of a new crime of ecocide, both at the national level in our penal code, and at the international level, at the international criminal court of The Hague. “
Ally with other countries
The non-binding resolution calls on the Belgian government led by liberal Alexander De Croo to initiate a new international to crack down on ecocide. She suggests allying for this with the countries considered to be the most “proactive” on the issue, such as Luxembourg, Finland, Spain or France (where the creation of an ecocide “offense” was voted in July). Another possible path for the Belgian executive: follow in the footsteps of small countries such as the Vanuatu archipelago and the Maldives which have asked to amend the treaty that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to include ecocide, alongside war crimes and genocide in particular.
“This reform of the Rome Statute (which created the ICC, editor’s note) is the most pragmatic path at present“, Samuel Cogolati told AFP. This requires the support of two-thirds of the 120 or so countries that are parties to this treaty, said the deputy. China, the United States or even Russia are not concerned. because they are not going to the ICC. “ At a time when the world’s eyes are on COP 26, we want to make sure that the criminalization of decisions is part of international discussions. It is urgent that criminal law comes to the rescue of the planet“, justified the Belgian environmentalists.
Oil spill in France due to the oil tanker Erika (chartered by Total), chemical discharges from the American giant 3M in the port of Antwerp, opacity of Monsanto (now a subsidiary of the German Bayer) on the harmfulness of its herbicides: these attacks on the The environment could fall under the blow of this new crime, estimated the Ecolo-Groen party, for which “it is necessary to put an end to the impunity of the big polluters”.
Belgium is ruled by a coalition made up mainly of liberals, socialists and ecologists. This resolution was supported including by opposition parties (centrists, communists). Only the far right (Vlaams Belang) and the Flemish conservatives (N-VA) voted against.