Ecological Intervention

Aug 28, 2009

Do states have a responsibility to protect the planet? If so, who would decide when environmental protection is a legitimate reason to interfere in the affairs of another state?

Do states have a responsibility to protect the planet?

As a result of "crimes against humanity," like the genocide in Rwanda, there is an emerging norm of humanitarian intervention.

If genocide is condemned, might the international community one day condemn ecocide? Might mass extinctions and massive ecosystem destruction be regarded as "crimes against nature" leading to a new norm of ecological intervention?

If so, who would decide when environmental protection is a legitimate reason to interfere in the affairs of another state?

Many developing countries see a new form of colonialism by powerful rich countries when "green conditionality" is attached to trade. If a poor country cuts down rain forests to employ its citizens, isn't that a sovereign right?

Would it ever be acceptable to use military force to save an endangered species, such as great apes? If the responsibility to protect extends to animals, does it extend to all species?

Scientists predict that millions of species might face extinction over the coming decades.

Would intervention be justified? Do we need an international environmental court to arbitrate? What do you think?

By Madeleine Lynn, based on Feature article by Robyn Eckersley and Online Symposium on Ecological Intervention, Ethics & International Affairs, Fall 2007

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