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.”