Home Business How ‘Ecocide’ Could Become an International Crime

How ‘Ecocide’ Could Become an International Crime


The term was coined in 1970 by Arthur W. Galston, an American biologist. It’s derived from the Greek oikos, meaning home, and the Latin caedere, meaning to demolish or kill. In 1972, then-Swedish Premier Olof Palme used the word in reference to the U.S. having sprayed the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover and crops for enemy troops. Since then, there have been several attempts to codify ecocide into international law, as genocide was following World War II. Ecocide was included in the early drafts of the Rome Statute, the document adopted in 1998 that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). That’s the permanent, independent tribunal, based in The Hague, that’s designed to hold accountable those who commit genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. But ecocide was dropped in 1996 as a category of crime after the U.S., the U.K. and the Netherlands argued it was insufficiently defined.

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