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The Push to Declare Ecocide as an International Crime

Ecocide, the destruction of the natural environment by human action, is something that society is pushing to be declared as an international crime. This is because it not only prejudices the environment, but it can leave lasting effects on the people living around the damaged area as well. A prime example of this is Agent Orange that took place in the Vietnam War during 1961-1971. Agent Orange was an example of chemical warfare - a herbicide mixture. This agent is critically toxic because of a chemical contaminant called dioxin. Over 20 million gallons were poured over Vietnam’s rainforests, wetlands, and croplands which would lead to many casualties on both sides of the war with Vietnam having 4 million affected. Not only did this agent cause harm to people, but it brought long-lasting effects to the environment as it burned down the habitats of both animal and plant species.

Governments around the globe have recognized this as an international issue and are working towards declaring ecocide as an international crime. 12 lawyers from around the world proposed a legal definition for ecocide: the destruction of the environment. This is one of the first steps in order to stop major events such as the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, climate change, and oil spills. A group in the Netherlands have already been pushing this since 2017, but their push was aimed towards genocide and crimes against humanity. If this succeeded, the governments responsible for the projects will be held accountable for these crimes. They want to hold ecocide as equal to war crime and want society to remember the definition of what really is destroying our environment.


It is important for ecocide to be declared as an international crime because as a result, we would be seeing animal and plant extinction and an increasingly rapid rate of environmental deterioration. Approximately 17% of the Amazon Rainforest has been lost in the last 50 years, and who knows how much longer it will last. Although it is not yet a crime, people should reconsider doing things that are harmful to the environment. The effects of harming the environment is not currently obvious, but it definitely will be in a few decades.