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An historic moment - June 2021
An Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide
convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation concluded its drafting work:

“ecocide” means unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.

December 2021

In Belgium, the international definition is mentioned in the resolution adopted by the Parliament, incorporating Belgian principles of law:


Actes illégaux ou résultant d’un défaut grave de prévoyance ou de précaution commis en connaissance de la réelle probabilité que ces actes causent à l’environnement des dommages graves qui soient étendus ou durables.


Onwettige handelingen of handelingen die het gevolg zijn van een ernstig gebrek aan voorzorg of vooruitziendheid, begaan in de wetenschap dat die handelingen naar alle waarschijnlijkheid ernstige schade aan het milieu zullen toebrengen, die uitgebreid of blijvend zijn.

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Original text: English

Official translations: Español, Français, Svenska, Nederlands

Unofficial translations: Deutsch / Suomalainen

Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide:

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Co-président: Philippe Sands QC

University College London / Matrix Chambers; author, East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity

Co-présidente: Dior Fall Sow

UN jurist and former prosecutor (Senegal)

Co-députée: Kate Mackintosh

Executive Director, Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA School of Law (US/UK)

Co-député: Richard J Rogers

Partner, Global Diligence; Executive Director, Climate Counsel (UK)

Valérie Cabanes

International jurist and human rights expert (France)

Pablo Fajardo

Environmental lawyer (Ecuador)

Syeda Rizwana Hasan

Director, Bangladesh Environmental Law Association (Bangladesh)

Charles C Jalloh

Professor, Florida International University/UN International Law Commission (Sierra Leone)

Rodrigo Lledó

Director, Fundación Internacional Baltasar Garzón (Chile)

Tuiloma Neroni Slade

Former ICC judge (Samoa)

Alex Whiting

Former International Criminal Court prosecutions coordinator; Professor, Harvard Law School (US)

Christina Voigt

University of Oslo

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Jojo Mehta

Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation and convenor of the panel, said:

“This is an historic moment. This expert panel came together in direct response to a growing political appetite for real answers to the climate and ecological crisis. The moment is right - the world is waking up to the danger we are facing if we continue along our current trajectory.”

The drafting work, she explained, “was high-level, collaborative and informed by many experts as well as a public consultation comprising hundreds of legal, economic, political, youth, faith and indigenous perspectives.  The resulting definition is well pitched between what needs to be done concretely to protect ecosystems and what will be acceptable to states.  It's concise, it’s based on strong legal precedents and it will mesh well with existing laws.  Governments will take it seriously, and it offers a workable legal tool corresponding to a real and pressing need in the world.”  

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