he who breaks the law
...must go back to the House of Pain!
InterPress, via Commondreams:
UNITED NATIONS - As the United Nations takes an increasingly dominant role in guiding the climate change debate, there is renewed interest in a longstanding proposal for the creation of an international court to try environmental crimes.
But some diplomats and environmentalists are sceptical whether such a court will have the political support of the overwhelming majority of the U.N.’s 192 member states for it to be a reality.
“It took ages for the creation of an international war crimes tribunal,” says one Third World diplomat, “and a world court for environmental crimes can take generations.”
Satish Kumar, an avowed environmentalist and editor of the London-based environmental magazine Resurgence, is a strong advocate of such a court.
“We have no right to make waste,” he argues. “And if I dump my waste on your house, it’s a crime. You can take me to court.”
“But if we put our waste on nature, nature can’t take us to court? Nature should have a right to take us to court. And the United Nations should establish a nature court,” Kumar told IPS.
He pointed out that environmental crimes — from the dumping of toxic wastes to the military destruction of natural resources — should be deemed “crimes against nature”.
Dr. Franoise Burhenne-Guilmin, senior counsel at the Environmental Law Centre of the Switzerland-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), thinks the proposal may hit legal and logistical snags.
“IUCN has never taken a formal position on this matter, but members of the Commission on Environmental Law (CEL) have discussed the issue in the past,” he told IPS.
He pointed out that the idea of a specific international court for environmental crimes was not supported by the CEL on the basis that they thought it would not be feasible.
“To establish such a court, people would need to agree on what constitutes an environmental crime,” Burhenne-Guilmin said.
Even if such a court were established, the rules which would have to be put in place in order for it to function would be very difficult to agree on, he added.
As recently - or far back, depending on one's POV, I suppose - as 1995 there was some loose discussion in enviro circles about an "Ecological Council" that would function somewhat like the Security Council does, save its purview would be environmental crises; that you've probably never heard of the proposal speaks to its' feasibility, and some fundamental misunderstanding as to who's on the Security Council and why.
Details like, you know, the history of the United Nations aside, there are any number of competing stories about the environment - or nature, or the wild, however one chooses to represent it - that prevents a body of international law from effectively ruling on what does and doesn't constitute and environmental crime: that is, there isn't a narrative-setter, like Nuremberg, for us to use as a touchstone.
That the titular heads of the UN constitute a Mechagodzilla-sized footprint on most or all of the biosphere doesn't much help the cause, either. It'd be a bit like having the U.S. take the lead on human rights violations in Southeast...oh, nevermind.