Crimes against the environment affect fundamental values and collective interests shared by the international community as a whole. The ‘global’ nature of the protected interests and the erga omnes character of many international environmental obligations are the main arguments in favour of the international criminalisation of certain environmental harms. This paper offers a survey of the development of international law with regard to the legal definition and consequences of environmental crimes from the perspective of both the law of state responsibility and international criminal law, up to the latest definition of ecocide and the proposal for its inclusion in the Rome Statute as formulated by the Panel of Independent Experts convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation. In so doing, the legal regime related to environmental crimes is also considered through the environmental ethics lens, so as to evidence the progressive evolution from an anthropocentric approach to the ecocentric view which characterises the new legal definition of the crime of ecocide.
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