Polly at the Peace Palace Hague Talks

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On the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Polly Higgins called today for a new Criminal Law of Ecocide to protect the rights of the Earth. As COP24 negotiators squabble and fail to accept the recent IPCC report that they themselves commissioned, at the Hague Talks Polly proposed a more muscular approach to the global environmental crisis.

Speaking at the Hague Peace Palace she said, “Today we celebrate not just the rights but also the responsibilities of governments to protect the most important right of all, the right to life.  Looking forward, not just to the next 70 years, but the next 700, even 7000 years, we must ask: how do we ensure the responsibility to protect the Earth’s right to life and the right to life of all who live on it, human and non-human? Climate negotiations cannot do this, but criminal law can, just as the crimes of murder and genocide are what protect the fundamental right to life.”

Polly outlined the recently launched Preliminary Examination and the particular challenges we face with climate crime. You can watch the stream of the event at this link.

pacific support from vanuatu

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Vanuatan support has been strong - His Excellency Ambassador John Licht stated on Thursday that climate-change related disasters in the Pacific islands result in atrocities that must be monitored by the international community. His deeply felt words were clear: 

"Climate change related disasters are killing an ever-growing number of people in our region and worldwide. As a result of global warming our region witnesses cyclones of unprecedented intensity, exceeding our coping capacity.

"We already see parts of our traditional lands being swallowed by the sea, we see corals dying as a result of ocean acidification and warming, and we face increasingly harsh weather conditions that are unknown to us, and hostile to our traditional way of life. The root causes of climate change - resource exploitation at alarming rates and massive clearance of natural forests - also have spill-over effects on our water catchment sources and ecosystems. 

"The resulting atrocities need to come under careful watch of the international community, especially where national environmental laws and basic human rights are blatantly ignored by multinational firms that have no concern for our environment or the dignity of our people. In sum, we need to open our eyes to what is happening, for example in our neighbourhood where mass ongoing exploitation of natural resources is intertwined with a slow genocide of the people who have ancestral ties and DNA to these resources.”

Polly Higgins names top Shell bosses as key suspects at launch of climate ecocide investigation

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The Hague, 6th Dec: Preliminary examination launched

This week it finally came - Polly's opportunity to really spell it out for governments, industry, public and press: Is it now time to urgently amend the Rome Statute to include ecocide? Due to the revelatory nature of this event we couldn't have publicised it in advance... but this what kept us so busy and quiet over the last few weeks:

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Our non-profit Ecological Defence Integrity has launched, in conjunction with forensic data analysts INTERPRT, an independent Preliminary Examination into the potential crime of climate ecocide.  

Full information on this investigative work is now visible at a dedicated site www.earth-law.org.

 

KEY SUSPECTS NAMED:

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Left to right:

the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden,

the CEO of Shell Netherlands Marjan van Loon and also

the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes.

Independent investigative work has already commenced.  The examination shall scrutinise evidence suggesting that Shell knew that significant adverse impacts arise from their activities. Crucially, evidence has come to light to suggest that the public has been misled over a lengthy period of 30+ years, and such evidence could amount to a crime.

Climate crime

The problem is that climate negotiations have never taken criminal law into consideration despite the fact that the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes to prevent climate catastrophe. A criminal law of ecocide would impose a legal duty on governments to protect the public from dangerous industrial practices. Hurricanes will not wait whilst we endlessly vacillate over agreements which cannot be enforced.

Complying with ICC requirements

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) already welcomes communications filed by individuals. The present examination goes beyond  ICC requirements, to determine additionally whether there is sufficient evidence to satisfy the elements of a crime of ecocide and if so whether, on the evidence, there are grounds to trigger the rapid establishment of ecocide as an atrocity crime. Findings shall be subject to the same stringent conditions and rigorous scrutiny as required by official ICC procedures.

“I look forward to publicly reporting our findings,” says Polly. “If the evidence shows that industrial activity known to exacerbate climate breakdown has been permitted to continue, then both the Dutch government minister and Shell's senior officers could be held responsible for pervasive impacts on the world's population at large, including the systemic and widespread collapse of ecosystems.

“Ecocide is the missing international crime of our time.”

Legal duty, moral duty... and duty to rebel

It’s all hotting up… scroll down for our most exciting update yet… (for other languages click on Google translate button top left)

Court says legal climate duty of care is owed by state

This week the Dutch Court of Appeal declared that the Dutch government has a legal duty of care to protect its citizens - and cut carbon emissions significantly.   

The Court took as its starting point that an emissions reduction of 25-40% by 2020 is necessary to limit global warming to a 2℃ target, and ordered emission cuts be made, to "be safe, at least as safe as possible".

Director of the Urgenda campaign Marjan Minnesma said "The court of appeal's decision puts all governments on notice. They must act now, or they will be held to account."  (However the world still lacks an enforcement mechanism - which of course is what an international crime of ecocide will provide.)

You can read an account of the appeal from our Dutch colleague, lawyer Femke Wijdekop HERE.

IPCC report: world has moral duty to act swiftly 

The landmark Urgenda appeal verdict comes hot on the heels of the publication of the latest IPCC report on climate, which has at last made clear to the public the precarious nature of our global environmental situation.  

This shift in public discourse is hugely important, indeed the very phrase 'climate change' is not equal to the challenge.  Although scary for many, the exposure of what we're facing, a climate breakdown, is long overdue and makes it easier for us - and indeed for you, in the many contexts of your life - to talk about the requirement for ecocide law, in particular climate crime.

When rebellion becomes reasonable

In the UK the government is failing so severely in its responsibility to protect people and planet that a determined and deeply courageous sector of our population is increasingly engaging in principled acts of civil disobedience - peaceful mischief, if you will - to communicate the need for drastic climate action, and specifically to call for a crime of ecocide.  

The pic above shows members of RisingUP! in Bristol this week in a prelude to a concerted campaign of principled and peaceful law-breaking, EXTINCTION REBELLION, to be declared in Parliament Square, London on 31st October. 

As we know from history, the great advances in freedom of the last 200 years - from the abolition of slavery to votes for women, from the emancipation of India to the civil rights movement - have without exception been catalysed by a minority willing to risk arrest and even jail by highlighting injustice in this way.

We fully support these brave folk, both morally and of course legally with the Conscientious Protector training and assistance offered free of charge by our Ecological Justice Programme (next session this coming Tuesday in Stroud). It is imperative that the courts hear the full and clear reasoning behind these actions, and that is precisely what we can enable.

UK Green Party leaders sign up to Mission LifeForce

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Thanks to an amazing group of volunteers led by Clare and Debs in Bristol, Mission LifeForce had a stand at the UK Green Party conference from 5-7 October this month... and we are delighted to announce that both the current party leaders Jonathan Bartley (left) and Sian Berry (right) as well as former party leader Natalie Bennett (second from left) are now fully signed up legal Earth Protectors.  It's a obvious match... welcome aboard, all of you!

Design the T-shirt!

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We're starting to get asked regularly for Mission LifeForce T-shirts and bumper stickers, and we want these to be more than just a logo and a URL - we'd like them to be beautiful.  

So we're inviting any designers or would-be designers out there to have some fun - yours could be the iconic design that ends up being worn on backs or bumpers from Stroud to Sydney...  

You must include the Mission LifeForce icon(which you can download in various formats from the RESOURCES - Get Involved page of the MLF website), the URL (MissionLifeForce.org) and one of the following 3 slogans:

  • I'm an EARTH PROTECTOR on a mission

  • One law to protect the Earth - and I'm backing it

  • Reclaim the future - become a legal EARTH PROTECTOR

Use approximate dimensions that will work for the purpose you've chosen (either T-shirt or bumper sticker - you may submit designs for both if you wish), and send to team@missionlifeforce.orgby Thursday 25th October.

Our most crucial time of year

The International Criminal Court holds its annual Assembly of State Parties in December - and this year it's at home in The Hague.  This is the key forum in which the climate-vulnerable island States have the opportunity to make their voices heard - and we can really make some noise about ecocide law.  

We know we made a powerful impact last year.  In his recent tirade against the ICC, Trump's security adviser John Bolton singled out our event out for specific criticism (see paragraph on ecocide crime HERE, about 2/3 of the way down) - we consider this a major acknowledgement!

So right now is our biggest opportunity to up the ante - and your help for this is crucial, to ensure that we go in there this year fully resourced.  You can make donations to the Trust Fund and/or our non-profit (the lifeforce behind the mission) from THIS PAGE.  

And you really can tell everyone you know to sign up to Mission Lifeforce - because with the climate crisis finally making front page headlines, the space in which to have that conversation is suddenly wide open. 

The time really is now.

Protecting our communities - and being heard

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It takes incredible courage to stand up against all the odds, when it looks like nothing can be done to stop dangerous industrial activity - and to do so peacefully, knowing that it can mean breaking the law as it currently stands. 

We were thrilled that so many courageous Conscientious Protectors turned up to our workshop in Bristol last week to learn how to make this act of conscience effective and understood when it reaches the criminal courts.

With the UK government astonishingly attempting to make fracking a 'permitted development' (i.e. no planning permission required) we have no doubt that the number of Conscientious Protectors putting themselves in the way of this ecocidal practice is only going to increase.  And with Conscientious Protectors like Helen Chuntso (in court in York again next week) and Heather Stroud paving the way, we think that courtrooms across the UK are heading for an interesting time...

Event with Treesisters this coming Tuesday

If you find yourself in or near the Cotswolds next week, come along to our joint heartstorming event with the fabulous Treesisters in our hometown of Stroud, Gloucestershire.  Details and link to Facebook event:

PROTECTING LIFE ON EARTH - an evening with Mission LifeForce & Treesisters

Tuesday 18th September 7:30pm - Old Town Hall, The Shambles, Stroud GL5 1AP

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1853942728030628/

Polly wins Shackleton award

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Earlier this week, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society presented Polly Higgins with their prestigious Sir Ernest Shackleton medal for leadership and citizenship. Whilst there, she was invited to speak to Strathclyde University's International Environmental Law students. She couldn't resist getting this snap before hopping on her train home... which just happened to be named the Sir Ernest Shackleton!

conscientious protectors & getting out there

Our non-profit recently launched the Ecological Justice Programme in the UK for trustees of the Earth Protectors Trust Fund taking peaceful action as Conscientious Protectors, standing up to protect the Earth and their communities from dangerous industrial activity.

This programme assists Conscientious Protectors representing themselves in court based on their human right to freedom of conscience.  One of our recently trained Conscientious Protectors, Heather Stroud, is in court today supported by many from Ryedale and North Yorkshire:

Events in Bristol next week

Our next training session for frontline protectors is a free-of-charge 1 day workshop in Bristol, UK, followed by an evening speaker event for a general audience with Polly Higgins and Jojo Mehta at the wonderful Hamilton House.  Do join us!  Links below:

ECOLOGICAL JUSTICE PROGRAMME (for frontline protectors): 

Activists as Conscientious Protectors - skilling up for the courtroom- 10am-4pm

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/500309153729877/  

EVENING TALK (for general audience): 

Ecological Justice Our power to protect the Earth - 7:30-9pm

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2469086629775660

Festival LifeForce

Mission LifeForce's Jojo Mehta has been introducing new audiences to the concept of "aligning the force of law with the force of life" - the Earth Protectors' mission to make ecocide a crime.  Festival crowds in the Treehouse and Pagoda venues at Greenbelt Festival listened attentively, while the stunning Imaginarium venue at Shambala was packed to the tent-poles... we are still catching up with entering all the resulting sign-ups into our system!  Looking forward to welcoming the new trustees very soon (and thank you J Sargent for Greenbelt pics).

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International Justice Day - and a courtroom moved to tears

Latest from the campaign to make ecocide an international crime: sign up today!

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20 years ago today, the Rome Statute (the governing document) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted, on 17 July 1998.  This year thousands of our Earth trustees shall be funding delegates from some of the smallest islands in the world to attend the annual Assembly in December - the first ever crowdfund by civil society for an international criminal law.

In preparation, Polly Higgins is in the Netherlands this week for meetings with  representatives, and to make arrangements for raising the profile of ecocide law still further at the International Criminal Court's Assembly of State Parties this year, being held in December in The Hague.

 

ECOLOGICAL JUSTICE PROGRAMME - a courtroom in tears

Our non-profit has recently launched the Ecological Justice Programme in the UK designed for signatories to the Earth Protectors Trust Fund who are taking peaceful action as Conscientious Protectors, standing up to protect the Earth and their communities from dangerous industrial activity.

The programme is intended to assist Conscientious Protectors wishing to represent themselves in a court of law by seeking reliance on their human right to freedom of conscience.

There are already a number of cases going through the UK courts - and although we know it will be a while before we start getting acquittals, what we are already seeing is that presenting the Conscientious Protector argument with clarity and integrity is very powerful. At her trial last week one of our first Conscientious Protectors, Helen Chuntso, had virtually the entire courtroom in tears!  Meanwhile Dr Peter Whittick (who we wrote to you about earlier this year) has already offered to join the programme to train other Conscientious Protectors following his own experience in court.

Those using the Conscientious Protector arguments and Earth Protectors Trust Fund documents say it feels really good to have the opportunity to speak their truth in court and give evidence of why they have taken peaceful action to prevent ecocide.

 

FINANCIAL STRUCTURE & RECURRING DONATIONS

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The Pot: this is where your one-off donation goes when you sign up. It is ring-fenced for practical costs of the Small Island Developing States progressing ecocide law at the International Criminal Court (ICC): travel, conferencing, legal research and assistance, ICC fees.

The Base: This is the UK non-profit that co-ordinates Mission LifeForce and administers the Earth Protectors Trust Fund, all our outreach, technical support and cyber-security as well as our premises and administration. 

Many have asked if they can set up a recurring donation to Mission LifeForce (as the sign-up donation is a one-off).  The answer is a resounding YES and you can now find this on the website HERE  - donations to our non-profit are particularly welcome at present and will help to support the Ecological Justice Programme.  

 

JEREMY LENT

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Acclaimed author and cognitive historian Jeremy Lent lists ecocide crime in his latest piece as a key route to curbing corporate power.  We are big fans of his big-picture approach (see his excellent book "The Patterning Instinct").

 

MAPPING THE MOVEMENT! ... AND OTHER RESOURCES

We are delighted to present our live TRUSTEE MAP, showing the wonderful growing number of people who are signing up to Mission LifeForce.  

We have also now made available a number of files to make it easier to spread the word about the Mission - you can find these HERE.  Below is an example of what a group of Conscientious Protectors did with the icon, making it highly visible at the fracking frontline in Blackpool last month…  what will you do?

Sinking Civilisations - living with climate ecocide in Paradise

On-the-ground documentary raising awareness of climate ecocide in the Pacific and the international campaign to make ecocide a crime.

Young film-maker Isaac Confino and team are creating a timely and very necessary documentary examining the lived reality of the climate-change-threatened paradise of Vanuatu in the Pacific.  

Click on the image to support their crowdfunder which has got off to a great start... 

The documentary also explicitly supports the work of Polly Higgins and her UK non-profit Ecological Defence Integrity to address ecocide on a global scale.  Her campaign, Mission LifeForce, is raising funds to support Pacific island states who have both the incentive and the power to take forward ecocide as a crime at the International Criminal Court.  Although still in its infancy, it is gaining traction and beginning to garner high profile support.

We warmly encourage you to support this important documentary, and if you have not yet done so, to sign up to Mission LifeForce to support a law that can truly protect the earth.  It's simple, it's powerful, it's possible... and together we can make it happen.

JONATHON PORRITT: "I'M A FULLY SIGNED UP EARTH PROTECTOR"

Join Jonathon today - sign up to Mission LifeForce to help make ecocide an international crime.

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Leading environmentalist and author Jonathon Porritt signs up to Mission LIfeForce

We are delighted to have this internationally renowned sustainability expert and green thinker on board.  He has previously expressed support for Polly Higgins' work on ecocide law.  In his own words: "Once upon a time people did grievous harm to the environment without fully understanding the consequences of their actions. That defence is no longer available, and that sure knowledge we now have entails equally sure moral obligations. In this context, the idea of establishing the crime of Ecocide is both timely and compelling."

Porritt, who spent many years as director of Friends of the Earth and later as chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, founded Forum for the Future in the 1990s - a non-profit organisation which has spent the last 20 years working with business and government around the world to create a sustainable future. 

Having examined the Mission LifeForce campaign with his customary thoroughness, Porritt recently contacted us to say that he is "now a fully signed up Earth Protector!"  In particular, regarding the legal route we're proposing - which is to say amending the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to include the crime of ecocide - he commented: "that process does sound potentially transformative. I also agree with the analysis that ‘only criminal law can stop the harm’, as it’s clear that existing legal sanctions are totally failing to do what we so urgently need them to do. Particularly in terms of ‘protecting the protectors’.  So I’m very happy to be one of those ‘conscientious protectors'."

Welcome aboard, Jonathon!

Join Jonathon today - sign up to Mission LifeForce to help make ecocide an international crime.

 

Mission LifeForce to launch in Spain

And don't miss our newly distilled homepage - clearer and more shareable than ever

BIOCULTURA BARCELONA, here we come

Mission LifeForce is soon to be launched in Spain, with a stand at the big eco-fair BIOCULTURA in Barcelona from 3-6 May.  An official Spanish version of the website is being prepared and a small dedicated team will be staffing the stand.

 

Come and see us!

You'll find us at the carpa Casa Sana, stand 28.  Talks in Spanish: Saturday 14:15 (Sala 1) and Sunday 13:30 (Sala 6). Or better still, come and help out on the stand!  Either way we'd love to meet you.

if you are based in or near Barcelona and could help on any of the days (Thurs 3rd, Fri 4th, Sat 5th, Sun 6th May), please contact anita@ecologicaldefenceintegrity.com

Sharing our journey - from Tetbury, UK

Sign up as an Earth Protector HERE.  Support the Mission LifeForce team HERE.

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Last week in our pop-up shop, we threw a party!

We wanted to share with others the great success of our campaign and to explore what we can do to enable core cost funding for our team. 

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This is new territory for us - not only where we are, in the beautiful Cotswolds town of Tetbury, but also in terms of where we go next with what we are doing. We love the fact that people all over the world could be Earth Protectors to fund ecocide crime to be taken in to the United Nations (the world's first crowdfund for international law) - and many of you who are trustees agree with us. Thank you - we've realised a concept that's never been done before, and we've shown that it works.

If you are in the UK and can come to the Cotswolds, please do drop in and meet us while our pop-up exhibition is still showing... any time between 11am and 5pm daily from now until 31st of March.

Inside this beautiful space (gifted by Amy Perry and with windows fabulously illustrated by Emily Seffar) you will find the remarkable wire horse sculptures of Katy Dunne as well as the nature photography of Andy Squiff and Ruth Davey framing the panels that tell the story of Ecocide Law, Conscientious Protectors and Mission LifeForce. Our campaign generates funds for the smallest countries in the world so they can take ecocide crime forward at the International Criminal Court. 

However, those funds are ring-fenced. Our team does not receive monies from the Earth Protectors Trust Fund, and so now we are turning our attention to funding the team, our new premises, and scaling up our operations, back-end support and security to enable the global impact that is our true remit.  If you can help us make this leap, please let us know! 

Meanwhile, keep sharing the website... the more Earth Protectors we are, the stronger the support we will collectively provide to those small states when they are ready to speak out. 

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Update from the United Nations

Our last few days here at the UN in New York have begun to place missing parts into the bigger picture.  Meetings during our fortnight at the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court have shed light on critical aspects, including how to best address the severe under-representation of Small Island Developing States.