Centre​ hosts one-day symposium on "Transnational and International Environmental Crime: Synergies,
Priorities and Challenges

   
The Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law and Justice recently held a one-day workshop on environmental crime; its causes, the complex (often transnational) systems in which it operates and how best to tackle it through law and other governance arrangements. With international speakers ranging widely over the wide gamut of issues relating to environmental crime, the workshop focused particularly on how international and transnational legal arrangements have sought to regulate and, in certain cases, criminalise environmental harms (ie. illegal wildlife poaching, chemical and hazardous waste dumping, illegal forestry and timber activities, and “IUU” (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing).

Recognising the increasing mainstreaming of environmental crime with other forms of transnational organised crime, as well as being a cause of, factor in and a consequence of regional insecurity and instability, many of the speakers highlighted the scale and severity of the problems. Several speakers highlighted the 2016 Policy Paper by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in which it appeared to highlight a greater willingness to review the impact of environmental damage and the illegal use of natural resources in making its assessments as to whether to prosecute for “Rome Statute” crimes. It was recognised that the specific environmental war crime in the Rome Statute – article 8(2)(b)(ix) – imposed an extremely high threshold before a successful prosecution could proceed. More significant were the opportunities for transnational law enforcement and greater use of domestic powers within the remit of international law (fisheries law enforcement being specifically mentioned here).

Moreover, as most speakers highlighted, environmental crime is not a victimless crime; whether as a direct result, or through indirect consequence, environmental crime had the potential to cause significant and, in many cases, extreme human impact (financial, physical and psychological). Moreover, the commission of environmental crime by criminal networks and other transnational actors often had the consequence of pushing local peoples, particularly where the natural resource base was their only source of subsistence, into committing their own environmental crime, thus further diminishing the environment.

Ultimately, tackling environmental crime requires, inter alia, political will, international cooperation, and resource. Having the right laws in place is certainly a first step – and criminalising such activity itself is a notable first step as it classifies an environmental activity not only as a socially questionable environmental harm to a socially-prohibited activity – but having laws on the books (be that domestic or international) must be followed through with effective enforcement, prosecution and sentencing. Equally important, such action must work alongside other social priorities, especially in developing countries, of working towards the Sustainable Development Goals. And in all countries, such action must be rights-based.
   

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You can view the programme for this event here:

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You can download PowerPoint presentations from this event here:

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Barbara Ruis,
​UN Environment

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Mark Chadwick,
Nottingham Tent University

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Valentin Schatz,
University of Trier

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For a written summary click here 

Ifesinachi Okafor-Yarwood,
Kings College London

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Gita Gill,
Northumbria University

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