Ecocide – The Mental Element

One of the most complicated aspects of defining an international crime of ecocide is the mental element. What level of knowledge, intention or recklessness as regards the consequences of their actions must someone have in order to be guilty of the crime? Very little serious environmental damage is caused purposefully; it tends to be a result of activity that is carried out for other reasons. But most international crimes require intentional harm.

In this episode, The Promise Institute’s Kate Mackintosh speaks with three international lawyers who offer their suggestions for how to solve this puzzle.

Luke Johnson is a 2nd year PhD student at Northumbria University investigating the definition of ecocide and how the crime may be implemented and enforced into practice.

Lisa Oldring is a doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, focusing on the crime of ecocide from a human rights perspective. A former senior UN human rights advisor, she is currently an advisor to Stop Ecocide International and Member of the Board of Directors, Avocats Sans Frontières Canada.

Darryl Robinson, Professor of Law at Queen’s University Faculty of Law, helped to negotiate the definitions of crimes in the International Criminal Court Statute, and was involved in the Promise Institute for Human Rights expert group on ecocide.

This podcast is one in a series of conversations with authors of the 15 short papers in our online symposium: The Crime of Ecocide – New Perspectives, which you can find on The site also hosts a regularly updated annotated bibliography, which lists and summarizes publications on ecocide, as well as information on proposed definitions and legal developments around the world.