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Concept Of "Ecocide" UPSC NOTE

 Overview of Mexico's 'Maya Train' Project:

  • Mexico's 'Maya train' project is a massive undertaking covering a 1,525 km route, designed to connect tourists in the Caribbean with historic Maya sites.

  • The project's construction cost is estimated at $20 billion.

  • However, it has garnered contradictory reputations, being described as both a "Pharaonic project" and a "megaproject of death."

Environmental and Ethical Concerns:

  • Critics argue that the 'Maya train' project poses significant environmental risks to the Yucatán peninsula, including its rich wilderness, ancient cave systems, and Indigenous communities.

  • The Tribunal for the Rights of Nature in August declared the project responsible for "crimes of ecocide and ethnocide."

Understanding Ecocide:

  • Ecocide is a term derived from Greek and Latin, translating to "killing one's home" or "environment."

  • It refers to actions that cause severe and widespread or long-term damage to the environment, including activities like deforestation, pollution of rivers, and habitat destruction.

  • Several countries, including Mexico, are considering ecocide legislation, and there's a push to elevate it to an international crime.

Historical Context:

  • The concept of ecocide was linked to environmental destruction and genocide, with the term first used in connection with the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

  • Legal expert Polly Higgins played a pivotal role in urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to recognize ecocide as an international crime.

Current Legal Framework:

  • The Rome Statute of the ICC deals with four atrocities: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

  • War crimes are the only category that can hold perpetrators responsible for intentional environmental damage during wartime.

Arguments for Criminalizing Ecocide:

  • Ecocide laws exist in 11 countries, with 27 others considering similar legislation.

  • The European Parliament unanimously voted to enshrine ecocide in law.

  • These laws provide a legal framework to protect the environment and hold individuals and corporations accountable for environmental damage.

  • Ecocide laws can also serve as a call for justice for countries disproportionately affected by climate change.

Limitations and Criticisms:

  • Some experts argue that the definition of ecocide is ambiguous and sets a low threshold for culpability.

  • The requirement for damage to be "intentional" may limit the liability of individuals and governments.

  • The ICC's limited legal powers and uneven record of convictions raise challenges for prosecuting ecocide cases.

  • The transnational nature of many environmental crimes complicates jurisdiction issues.

India's Stance and Legal Framework:

  • India has recognized the legal personhood of nature in some judgments and made references to ecocide in passing.

  • India's legislative framework includes various environmental protection laws but lacks a unified code.

  • The National Green Tribunal in India does not have jurisdiction over certain environmental matters.

  • There are conflicts within Indian laws, with new bills potentially diluting existing environmental protections.

  • Challenges in addressing issues of liability and compensation persist in India.


  • Before ecocide laws are established internationally, India and other countries need to align their environmental laws with the principles of ecocide and strengthen enforcement mechanisms.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Concept Of "Ecocide" UPSC NOTE
Concept Of "Ecocide" UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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