Now Is the Time to Enshrine Ecocide Into Law

In the wake of the global tragedy that is COVID-19, the international community must come together and enshrine Ecocide into law.


In a very significant move, after more than 200 conservation NGOs called on the WHO to ban live wildlife markets this week, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers have followed suit. The UK government will, I am confident, do the same in due course, but we must think bigger than that.

The international community must use the shared tragedy of COVID-19 as the catalyst for incorporating planetary health into all future multilateral agreements, and – most importantly – for this to be legally binding. There is a mechanism for this: Ecocide should be added to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Banning wildlife markets and properly enforcing the laws around wildlife crime is an obvious starting point, but what we require is a seismic shift in the way we treat our natural resources; enshrining Ecocide into law would be that seismic shift.

In a global economy natural resources are shared resources: when China fails to police the wildlife trade we all suffer; when Brazil burns the Amazon we all suffer; when Australia’s domestic policies lead to the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef we all suffer, and it is time that the perpetrators of these globally-significant crimes be held accountable by the rest of the international community.

When governments, corporations and individuals breach human rights, they are made to suffer the costs politically, financially and in restriction of trade or liberty. The time has come for Ecocide – crimes against nature – to be treated the same way as genocide and other crimes against humanity, because crimes against nature are crimes against humanity. 

Originally published on

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Bannafarsai_Stock/ Shutterstock
    Thriving in the New Normal//

    The Numbers Don’t Lie: We Cannot Afford to Keep Plundering Nature

    by Niall McCann
    Ondrej Prosicky/ Shutterstock
    Thriving in the New Normal//

    Fixing Our Broken Relationship With Wildlife

    by Niall McCann, David Fein
    Bibiphoto/ Shutterstock
    Thriving in the New Normal//

    No Protection From Pandemics Unless We Fix Our Food Systems

    by Dr. Gunhild Stordalen, Dr. Johan Rockström

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.