The ICC and Environmental Protection: Prosecuting Environmental War Crimes in Ukraine

Environmental war crimes in Ukraine

Caitlyn Johnson analyzes how environmental damage could potentially be prosecuted as war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Johnson begins by noting how international armed conflicts have impacted the environment and summarizing previous efforts to hold states accountable for environmental damage.

Johnson then looks at Ukraine as an example of extensive environmental damage in war and how the international community has responded. Specifically, Johnson analyzes Russia’s attack on the Kalynivka oil depot as act that the ICC could prosecute. Johnson considers how the ICC could attain subject matter, temporal, and territorial or personal jurisdiction over the crime while also satisfying the principle of complementarity for the prosecution.

Johnson completes the analysis by discussing the charge at issue itself, article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute, which defines crimes against the natural environment as a war crime. Johnson progresses the readers through the elements required to prove that such a crime was committed. Johnson ends the article by encouraging the ICC to prosecute environmental war crimes in Ukraine.

By Caitlyn Johnson

J.D. Candidate at Georgetown University Law Center (Class of 2024).

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