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The Rights of Nature – EESC study – and ecocide

A study by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) published in December 2019 has taken on a new importance. Titled Towards an EU Charter of the Fundamental Rights of Nature it deals with what EU institutions need to do to incorporate the idea of eco- compatibility in their legislation; that is, the protection of nature in all its forms, acknowledging its status as an essential element with actual legal rights.

EESC – Towards an EU Charter of the Fundamental Rights of Nature

The recommended path is either a) the incorporation of the Charter into the EU Treaties; or b) the adoption of the Charter as an inter-institutional non-legislative act by the Council, the Parliament and the Commission.

Even if non-binding, the Charter could generate both a politico-institutional impact and relevant legal effects.

From a political point of view, the Charter’s approval could represent an ambitious political objective within the broader Green Deal for Europe and could be used by national Governments as an important result achieved within the international climate change and environmental commitments, in national political debates and in the eyes of their own constituencies.

We believe that this document is particularly important right now because on 19 January 2021 the European Parliament approved in a plenary session the Resolution that invites the EU and its member states to promote the recognition of ecocide as a crime in international law. In this context, the Charter of the Rights of nature suggested by the EESC study could set the framework for European definition of ecocide.

Here is the article of the Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy (A9-0259/2020) approved by the European Parliament which presents the concept of the recognition of ecocide:

“12. Stresses that biodiversity and human rights are interlinked and interdependent, and recalls the human rights obligations of states to protect the biodiversity on which those rights depend, including by providing for the participation of citizens in biodiversity-related decisions and providing access to effective remedies in cases of biodiversity loss and degradation; expresses its support to the nascent normative efforts at international level in relation to environmental crimes; in this regard, encourages the EU and the Member States to promote the recognition of ecocide as an international crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC);”.