Ecocide: The Power of International Law to Create the New World - Update!

Permaculture magazine
Thursday, 6th September 2012

Polly Higgins, Lawyer for the Earth, is the founder of the campaign to make Ecocide the 5th international Crime Against Peace. Here she gives the latest update on the Ecocide Campaign, and sends a personal message to all permaculture people.

Please SUPPORT Polly and her team to close the door once and for all to Ecocide.

"Setting the Stage for a More Peaceful Planet" - What Does the Ecocide Campaign Attempt to Achieve?

"Our cycle of damage and destruction is spiralling onwards and upwards with increasing speed. This is Ecocide. The impacts are enormous and over a very short period of time we can see the consequences. Morally we know now that causing mass damage and destruction is wrong. This is why I am calling on the United Nations to make Ecocide an international crime." This is Polly Higgins, speaking about her with to introduce Ecocide as the 5th international Crime Against Peace, in order to close the door once and for all to mass damage and destruction.

Remarkably, causing mass damage and destruction, whether it be through tar sands extraction, nuclear testing or logging, is not a crime. Named 'one of the world's most unreasonable people', Polly has refused to accept this current situation, and speaks on platforms across the world; to UN Ambassadors, governments, lawyers and anyone who can help seed out her message.

"Everything we do is governed by permaculture ethics; people care, earth care and fair share," says Polly. "Ecocides occur when we take far more than our fair share, which affects both our people and our Earth. To ensure we live within our planetary limits, a law of Ecocide creates a legal framework that can ensure we all live in peaceful enjoyment." In the past year it was your money that funded Polly and her team in the run up to the Rio Earth Summit. 

Recent Success on Mock Ecocide Trial Gathers International Publicity - Momentum Grows for Ecocide Campaign

The team has had some wonderful successes; in the past year alone, a mock Ecocide Trial was held in the UK Supreme Court where two fictional Chief Executive Officers were put on trial for causing ecocide due to their destructive practices in the Athabasca tar sands. Both were found guilty, demonstrating that a law of Ecocide can work in practice, and garnering international media coverage for the campaign, including in The Financial Times, Le Monde, Time magazine, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, and Canada's CBC. The trial was broadcast worldwide online by Sky News.

We believe that Polly's campaign to make Ecocide a crime is a vital piece in the jigsaw that can help prevent widespread habitat destruction, reverse the escalation of greenhouses gases, curb nuclear testing and the proliferation of nuclear arms, and set the stage for a more peaceful planet. Polly is a tireless, passionate and strategic promoter of the rights for Mother Earth. She has a personal message to all permaculture people in the run up to Dr. Vandana Shiva's two-week campaign named the 'Seed Freedom Fortnight of Action', also known as 'Occupy the Seed'.

"Our lives are under threat from rising greenhouse gas emissions; do we leave a legacy that is life-affirming or a non-life-affirming legacy?" Polly asks. "Where there is no consideration for future generations and their well-being, it cannot be said that the legacy fosters life. The focus of climate negotiations is on the fast return of profit - markets made out of hot air. Dollar signs are being drawn in the sky. In the meantime, the voice of the Earth has been silenced."

Last month the University of London's Human Rights Consortium at the School of Advanced Study launched their Ecocide Project, a unique academic forum that provides a national focal point for leading, facilitating and promoting research into the problem of Ecocide, its human rights implications and the drive to support Polly and her team and help make Ecocide the 5th Crime Against Peace. 

Tar Sands Before and After

Governed by Permaculture Ethics, the Campaign is Closer to Making an International Law Against Ecocide a Reality

To date Ecocide is a crime in only ten countries. In these countries' penal codes, Ecocide stands alongside the other four international Crimes Against Peace: Crimes Against Humanity; Genocide; War Crimes; and Crimes of Aggression. However, momentum is growing for the Ecocide Campaign: Polly is invited by governments around the world to advise on the law of Ecocide. The next step is to get a Head of State to speak out to have the law added to the Rome Statute - the governing document which sets out the existing four Crimes Against Peace. To do this, Polly says, she needs your help: "Just think how close we are to making this law a reality."

Polly has travelled to many countries to call for Ecocide to be made an international crime; in May she launched her second book Earth is our Business. She has been awarded Overall Champion and Campaigner of the Year at the PEA Awards and now she has started a training programme for others to learn how to become a Voice for the Earth. Earlier this year she submitted a concept paper, Closing the door to dangerous industrial activity to all governments around the world. 

Polly's Plea to the Permaculture Community: "I Ask You to Help me Continue my Work as a Voice for the Earth." 

Yesterday Polly held an emergency meeting; despite the enormous efforts over the past few months, she has been unable to raise enough to keep going. This particular Earth lawyer has worked pro-bono for much of the past 7 years, however there comes a time when funds are desperately required. Her pot is now empty and her funding resources are in urgent need of replenishing. To keep Polly acting for the Earth, she needs help -– your help.

Polly's vision is for a world where we value all of life. "Imagine a world where the rivers run clear, the fish are abundant, the skies are unpolluted, the soils are untainted by pesticides, a world where the trees grow strong and healthy, the food on our table is fresh, local and organic, the fuel to heat, light and transport us is clean and ever-renewable. Man-made pollution, seen and unseen, no longer exists."

Polly is reaching out to the Permaculture community because "our sense of purpose becomes stronger and is renewed each time we reach out and ask for help from those who care. People who are 'permaculturists' are fellow voices for the Earth"

Please help Polly and her team today. Your donation will be the seed money that will give her the freedom to continue speaking out for a law that puts people and planet first. Click here to donate.

To read Maddy Harland's interview with Polly Higgins for Permaculture magazine, please see 'The Power of International Law to Create the New World – An Interview with Polly Higgins'.