Global lawyers are drafting designs for a legally enforceable crime of ecocide – criminalising destruction of the world’s ecosystems – that is now attracting aid from European international locations and island nations at hazard from increasing sea ranges.

The panel coordinating the initiative is chaired by Prof Philippe Sands QC, of University University London, and Florence Mumba, a former decide at the worldwide criminal court (ICC).

The aim is to draw up a legal definition of “ecocide” that would complement other current global offences this sort of as crimes towards humanity, war crimes and genocide.

The project, convened by the Quit Ecocide Foundation at the ask for of Swedish parliamentarians, has been introduced this month to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Nuremberg war crimes trials of Nazi leaders in 1945.

A number of compact island nations, which includes Vanuatu, in the Pacific and the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, known as for “serious consideration” of a crime of ecocide at the ICC’s yearly assembly of states events in December very last 12 months.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has also championed the plan and the Belgian governing administration has pledged assist. The shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, has also called for ecocide to be included into regulation.

The international criminal court docket, which is dependent in The Hague, has beforehand promised to prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of pure resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land.

An ICC plan paper in 2016 stated it was not formally extending its jurisdiction but would assess current offences, these types of as crimes in opposition to humanity, in a broader context. There have been no formal investigations or rates of this form so significantly.

Sands claimed: “The time is proper to harness the electric power of intercontinental legal law to protect our worldwide setting … My hope is that this team will be in a position to … forge a definition that is functional, powerful and sustainable, and that could possibly attract guidance to allow for an amendment to the ICC statute to be designed.”

Mumba, a choose at the Khmer Rouge tribunal and former supreme court choose in Zambia, said: “An global crime of ecocide could be essential in that particular person/point out duty could be controlled to obtain equilibrium for the survival of both of those humanity and nature.”

Jojo Mehta, the chair of the Prevent Ecocide Foundation, told the Guardian: “In most scenarios ecocide is most likely to be a company crime. Criminalising anything at the ICC means that nations that have ratified it have to include it into their very own nationwide laws.

“That usually means there would be plenty of possibilities for prosecuting [offending corporations] close to the globe.”

Mehta reported just one problem for the drafting panel would be to determine at what place an ecocide offence would come into drive. Chopping down a single tree on a village environmentally friendly would not be enough, she described.

“It would have to include mass, systematic or prevalent destruction,” she added. “We are almost certainly talking about Amazon deforestation on a substantial scale, deep sea base trawling or oil spills. We want to area it at the identical stage as atrocities investigated by the ICC.”

The 13-robust lawful panel of specialists from all around the world contain Tuiloma Neroni Slade of Samoa, who is also a former ICC judge. They are preparing to total their operate early upcoming year.