The International Criminal Court announced Thursday it will now hold corporate executives and governments legally responsible for environmental crimes.
The Hague court made explicit references to widening its approach to include land grabbing, which has allowed private corporations, with the help of governments, to take over large areas of foreign land to exploit natural resources. It will also prosecute for environmental destruction.
“Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries,” said Gillian Caldwell, executive director at Global Witness. “Company bosses and politicians complicit in violently seizing land, razing tropical forests or poisoning water sources could soon find themselves standing trial in the Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. The ICC’s interest could help improve the lives of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems.”