Progress on international Ecocide law that will support all environmental campagns

Image: The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has called on parliaments of its participating States to enshrine the concept of ecocide in national and international law.

The global initiative to Stop Ecocide is seeing astounding progress. Domestic ecocide bills are being proposed or progressed in new countries every few weeks, and support for recognising ecocide at the international level is drawing more attention than ever before. here are a few – more available on the Stop Ecocide website.


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has called on parliaments of its participating States to enshrine the concept of ecocide in national and international law.

The breakthrough endorsement was included in the Final Declaration of the OSCE PA’s 30th Annual Session in Vancouver (held between June 30 – July 4 2023) and was ratified via ballot by the 225 members of parliament from the 50 nations in attendance.

The OSCE PA’s Final Declaration expressed alarm over the rising number of microplastic and nanoplastic particles found in ecosystems and urged more research on its effects on human health. On climate change, the Assembly called for reducing greenhouse gas emissions according to the Paris Agreement, and for “OSCE participating States to facilitate, within their respective societies, open and fact-based debate.” It also stressed the need to “develop ambitious strategies for the clean energy transition.”

Jojo Mehta, Co-founder and Executive Director of Stop Ecocide International said:

“We welcome this intervention from the OSCE PA. There is no doubt that ecological and climate crises pose a real and pressing threat to the stability of Europe and the wider global order. 

Recognition of ecocide as a crime in its own right, applying in both peacetime and conflict, will act as an effective deterrent to severe and either widespread or long-term environmental harm. As such, it is a goal that should be embraced, not just by those motivated by the protection of our shared environment, but by those who are moved by the long-term security interests of the nations of Europe and beyond.”


  • Ecocide included in new draft penal code.

  • Inclusion approved on second reading by the Federal Council of Ministers on Thursday 20 July.

  • Parliamentary approval required to become law.

On Thursday 20th July, the Belgian Council of Ministers approved the second reading of a bill outlining proposed reforms to the nation’s penal code. Among the new crimes listed for inclusion is Ecocide. Pending approval by Parliament later this year, the development sees Belgium set to become the twelfth country to add the crime to its statute books.

Zakia Khattabi, Federal Minister for the Environment, said,

“Nature is our first safety net: it purifies our air and water, provides us with food, absorbs and stores carbon, and acts as a bulwark against climatic disasters: fires, floods, droughts… Serious environmental damage that causes long-term harm to the ecosystems on which human health depends cannot go unpunished.”

I’m delighted to see Belgium join this group of pioneering countries in this field!”

A coalition of more than 20 climate and environmental organisations has long argued for the recognition of ecocide as a crime in Belgium, including Stop Ecocide Belgium, Greenpeace Belgium, Canopea, Rise for Climate, Youth for Climate, Climate Justice for Rosa, the Climate Coalition, the European Foundation for the right of the living, Extinction Rebellion and Grandparents for Climate.

Advocates close to the process have acknowledged the step as a significant win, although the bill is more limited in scope than they might have wished.

“Examination by the Council of State has resulted in some restriction of the bill’s reach, applying it specifically to aspects covered by federal rather than regional environmental law.” said Patricia Willocq, Founder and Director of Stop Ecocide Belgium.

“This is due to the particular way that legal competencies work here in Belgium. Nonetheless, this confirmation from the Council of Ministers is a huge step forward for environmental legislation in this country. Once the law has been adopted domestically, Belgium will be in a position to initiate diplomatic procedures to introduce ecocide at the International Criminal Court and play a meaningful role in the protection of precious ecosystems around the world. Now it’s up to the Federal Parliament to strengthen the law.”

Ruth-Marie Henckes, Biodiversity Campaigner at Greenpeace, added,

“In 2021, the federal parliament voted in favour of an ambitious resolution to recognise ecocide as a crime in national and international law, with a much more ambitious definition of ecocide than the current bill. In the meantime, more than 33,000 citizens have signed our petition calling for the definition of ecocide adopted by parliament to be included in the new criminal code. We are counting on Parliament to strengthen this law.”

“Ecocide is a crime against us all which, until now, has gone virtually unpunished. The Council of Ministers’ proposal gives us the opportunity to punish those responsible for ecocide in Belgium with up to 20 years’ imprisonment, thereby protecting nature”.



  • New bill to criminalise ‘ecocide’ submitted to Mexican Parliament.

  • Bill submitted by Deputy Karina Marlen Barrón Perales of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) on 30 July.

  • Bill now with Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Committees for consultation.

  • Mexico joins the EU, Brazil, the Netherlands, Scotland, Spain (Catalunya), and Belgium in having ecocide bills at various stages of proposal.

On 30 July, as reported in Bulletin No. 4723 of the Chamber of Deputies, Deputy Karina Marlen Barrón Perales (PRI) proposed adding a new article to Mexico’s Federal Penal Code which would impose 10 to 15 years in prison and a fine of 1,000 to 1,500 pesos per day on anyone who perpetrates “any unlawful or wanton act committed with the knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment”.

The proposed bill, which is directly based on the wording of the Legal Definition of ecocide formulated by the Independent Expert Panel convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation in 2021, has been passed to the Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Committees for consultation.

The proposal highlights, among other things, that it is fundamental for the country to recognise the concept of ecocide so that “those responsible for criminal acts against biodiversity can be judged and prevented from going unpunished” and considers that there will be no effective results if it is not done through the federal legal system.

Among the most serious environmental problems affecting Mexico’s environment, and which are highlighted in the proposal, are pollution, deforestation, waste management, global warming and fracking.

On this basis, Deputy Barrón Perales argued that “environmental destruction has caused regrettable repercussions in all ecosystems and biodiversity has been seriously affected, so that some species have become extinct and others are in danger of extinction”. She went on to say that “Some states or cities have serious air pollution […] There is also serious water pollution in rivers, seas and lakes, and […] Human health has been affected by environmental problems causing respiratory, gastric and dermatological diseases as well as serious kidney, stomach and cancer ailments.”

The deputy ended with these words, “Let’s stop ignoring the destruction of the environment. It is time to react and point out these failings in our legislation so that [these harmful acts] are punished with the gravity they deserve. Let them not continue to go unpunished.”

Rodrigo Lledó, Director of Stop Ecocide Americas and a member of the Panel of Independent Experts for the Legal Definition of Ecocide, said:

“This initiative follows  the one presented in Brazil last June. Similar initiatives are being prepared in Argentina, Chile and other Latin American countries. To adequately protect the environment, it is necessary for ecocide to become a crime not only internationally but also under national legislation”.

Jojo Mehta, Co-founder and Executive Director of Stop Ecocide International said,

“This is exciting news from Mexico. The momentum is really gathering around the world – recent months have seen ecocide bills at various stages of proposal in the EU, Brazil, the Netherlands, Scotland, Spain (Catalunya) and Belgium (where the government is now only waiting on parliamentary approval). Leaders across the globe are clearly beginning to wake up to the very real dangers we face, and a strong legislative direction of travel is becoming evident.

“It is only a matter of time before enforceable legal protection against severe and widespread or long-term environmental harm is accepted as a necessary step towards a safer world… by a critical mass of nation states, at regional level and indeed at the International Criminal Court.”

‘An International Crime of Ecocide: New Perspectives’
Promise Institute Symposium 2023

As momentum gathers around a new international crime of ecocide, this online symposium brings together a broad range of contributors to consider questions like – whose world views should shape the crime, what difference would it make to deforestation in Brazil or bauxite mining in Jamaica, and how might it best be brought into law?

Kate Mackintosh, Damien Short, Darryl Robinson & Shirleen Chin.
With critical assistance from Veronika Bagi.


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