Sentinel Ocean Alliance welcomes draft international law defining ‘Ecocide’ as a punishable offence, alongside war crimes and genocide.
“In wildness is the preservation of the world” - Henry David Thoreau.
On Tuesday, 22 June, 2021 a draft international law was unveiled that defines ecocide as an unlawful act. This is a significant development that has been welcomed by eco-activists around the world, including Sentinel Ocean Alliance.
The most important thing that the school students of Sentinel Ocean Alliance take away with them is that the ocean is the earth’s biggest life-support system. The ocean generates half of the world’s oxygen and every second breath we take comes from its vast waters, yet the ocean, the lungs of our planet, is dying.
Human civilization is currently precipitating what is known as the sixth mass extinction. Through our overexploitation of natural resources, and reliance on a global economy based on fossil fuels, we are hovering at the edge of a catastrophe from which neither the planet nor we as humans will ever recover. Yet, no-one is being held responsible.
The ocean holds the key to our survival, but it is being exploited massively. For example, marine biologists have discovered that whales play a significant role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Each great whale removes an estimated 33 tonnes of CO2 on average during their lifetime. A tree during the same period only contributes to three percent of the carbon absorption of the whale.
However, an estimated minimum of 300,000 whales and dolphins are being killed each year as a result of fisheries bycatch, due to unsustainable fishing practices. Six out of the 13 great whale species are classified as endangered or vulnerable. What we need to realise is that our future, and the future life on this planet as we know it, is intrinsically tied to these creatures and the delicate balance of our fragile ecosystem.
In order to address this problem and to hold governments, corporations and individuals accountable for the most damaging offences to the environment, a group of legal experts from across the globe have worked together to amend the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include Ecocide as a crime.
If the ICC adopts this law, a Stop Ecocide Foundation initiative, it would become just the fifth offence the court prosecutes – alongside crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and the crime of aggression. The law would enable the prosecution and conviction of actions such as the unlawful killing of a protected species, destruction of protected areas, or major oil spills.
The tabling of the draft law has been praised by eco-activists worldwide. But most importantly, it will give the planet – and her species – a real voice. It is time to shift our anthropocentric view of the world to an ecocentric system of values. As American marine biologist and eco-activist, Dr Sylvia Earle, once said: “no water, no life, no blue, no green.”
We owe our existence to the oceans. Help Sentinel Ocean Alliance empower a new generation of ocean guardians, who will tread more lightly on the earth by developing a better understanding of our intricate connection to the planet’s fragile web of ecosystems.
Please support the work of Sentinel Ocean Alliance by donating to the cause or by joining us as a fundraiser for the oceans at:
“We don’t have a right to ask whether we are going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what’s the right thing to do. What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?” - Wendell Berry