It’s official, jury unanimous: the Athabasca Tar Sands found to be a crime.
On the 30th of September 2011, in the UK Supreme Court it took just 50 minutes for the jury to return with two unanimous guilty convictions of ecocide against the CEO’s of the oil companies operating in the Athabasca Tar Sands. They returned a not guilty verdict for the charge of ecocide of the Oil Spill.
It was a tense moment waiting for the jury to return with their verdicts; this was not a guaranteed outcome. The court was packed, as was the hall outside where it was being live streamed online by SKY News. People around the world were watching online and following updates on twitter – 120,000 tweets for #ecocidetrial were recorded by lunchtime.
—from the Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution (IDCR):
After the Trial, the Sentence…
In a most unusual step, sentencing of CEOs Robert Bannerman and John Tench has been adjourned for a Restorative Justice Hearing following their convictions for Ecocide in the UK Supreme Court that took place 30 September 2011. The Hearing for the Sentence will take place at the Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution (IDCR) at the University of Essex on the 31st of March 2012.
Under the Ecocide Act, new provisions have been applied where Restorative Justice is an option for the parties. Both CEO’s have agreed to attend, which will bring them face to face with individuals who speak on behalf of the inhabitants of the territory they have been convicted of extensively damaging. The Hearing will take place after representations by Prosecuting Barrister Michael Mansfield QC and Defence Barrister QC counsel to the Judge (TBC). The parties then have the option to adjourn to a room for a Restorative Justice (RJ) mediation, which will be filmed and screened live as they wrestle with the issues that arise. The event is open to the public and interested organisations; there will be breakout sessions, debates and speakers during the day to discuss the issues that arise during the Restorative Justice process. Lawrence Kershen QC will facilitate the restorative justice process on the day.
To register for this event, please click HERE
To follow the Live Stream on the day, please click HERE
Trailer for the event
The sentencing event is being jointly organised by The Hamilton Group, which devised and managed the Ecocide Trial at the Supreme Court, and the Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution at the University of Essex.
“The trial allowed a forensic examination of the implications of this proposed law to see how it would work in practice. Ecocide should be on the Agenda at the Earth Summit in Rio in June 2012. The mock Trial proved that the crime of Ecocide is valid. The ethical and moral case for the banning of ecocides must now be at the forefront of decision-makers in Government and business throughout the World. There is international interest in the passage of such a law and The Hamilton Group will continue to ensure that the implications are as widely debated and understood as possible.”
It is argued that the proposed new Law against Ecocide is fundamental in addressing humanitarian and environmental issues on a global scale. Implementation of the Law has the potential to change inter-governmental policy and action on climate change, by providing the necessary legal framework to help stop the over-exploitation of natural resources and to pre-empt the impending energy crunch.
A key actor for both events is Polly Higgins, a barrister and international environmental lawyer who has proposed Ecocide as the law to protect the Earth’s Right to Life to the United Nations. Her book, Eradicating Ecocide, Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of our Planet, sets out the law of Ecocide and she is campaigning for Ecocide to be made the 5th Crime Against Peace. (see www.eradicatingecocide.com and www.pollyhiggins.com).
The Earth’s Right To Life is currently being considered by the UN under a Universal Declaration of Earth Rights. Just as the Human Right to Life is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the crime of Genocide, so the Earth’s Right to Life will be enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Earth Rights and the crime of Ecocide.
The definition of Ecocide submitted by Polly Higgins to the United Nations is:
“the extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.”
The Ecocide Trial can be seen on YouTube in a short and long format. The short trailer is available by clicking HERE. The whole trial can be seen by clicking HERE. Photos of the Ecocide Trial taken by Abie Shwarz are available HERE.
Restorative Justice Hearing: Academic presentations
- Professor Steffen Boehm (Essex Business School) on carbon markets
- Professor Hugh Ward (Department of Government) on political regimes and climate change
- Professor Sheldon Leader (School of Law) on project finance and the environment
- Dr Netta Weinstein on the psychological benefits of the environment
Special guest presenter
For a list of Frequently Asked Questions for this event, please CLICK HERE.
‘There is a rising form of public accountability through new technologies and a global demand for business to respect human rights, labour rights, and the environment.’ Professor Todd Landman, Director, Institute for Democracy & Conflict Resolution.