A team of a dozen legal experts from around the world have drafted a definition of “ecocide” for use by the International Criminal Court. If adopted by the ICC, ecocide would be one of just five crimes prosecuted by the court, along with war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of aggression — the crimes prosecuted at the Nuremberg trials. Advocates say the ICC’s prosecution of ecocide could provide a mechanism by which to hold transnational polluters accountable.

“The environment is threatened worldwide by the very serious and persistent damage caused to it, which endangers the lives of the people who live in it,” Dior Fall Sow, a co-chair of the panel, UN jurist, and a former prosecutor from Senegal told The Guardian. “This definition helps to emphasise that the security of our planet must be guaranteed on an international scale.” (The Guardian, NBC and InsideClimate News, Al Jazeera; Commentary: The Guardian, Alexandre Antonelli and Pella Thiel op-ed)