Europeans accuse Russia of ecocide during invasion of Ukraine

Europeans accuse Russia of ecocide during invasion of Ukraine

Russian aggression bears the signs of ecocide, which threatens not only Ukraine but the biological diversity and healthy environment of the whole of Europe, for which the aggressor must be held accountable at the international level.

That’s according to a conclusion passed at the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC).

“While the war in Ukraine is dragging on, concerns are mounting about the transboundary environmental damage it has caused. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an own-initiative opinion at its April plenary on the right to a healthy environment in the European Union especially in the context of the war in Ukraine calling for criminalisation of Russia's actions under European law as well as environmental protection to safeguard fundamental rights,” says the relevant press release.

As noted, the criminal war waged by Russia against Ukraine is taking a severe toll on Ukraine’s ecosystems, with reports indicating that large areas of forest have been destroyed and air and water pollution has been widespread. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity Secretariat, Ukraine is home to 35% of Europe's biodiversity despite only occupying 6% of its territory. However, the war is threatening this rich natural heritage, with environmental damage causing harm to ecosystems and human health and endangering agricultural production.

"The European Economic and Social Committee, together with the European Parliament, calls for the recognition of ecocide as a criminal offence under EU law. The EESC believes that this would help hold Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine and prevent similar environmental disasters from happening in the future," the document says.

Read also: “Deliberate act of ecocide”: Vereshchuk on Russians draining Kakhovka Reservoir

The members of the Committee urged the EU to also document the crimes committed by the Russians against the environment, which will become not only the basis for bringing criminals to justice but also a reference point for post-war reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.

"[T]he right to a healthy environment is essential to the social and economic wellbeing of people in Europe and worldwide..... The EESC calls on all EU Member States and institutions to improve the effectiveness of existing legal tools and deepen their efforts to ensure respect for the right to a healthy environment. With the ongoing conflict in Ukraine highlighting the fragility of our ecosystems, it is more important than ever to protect our natural heritage and safeguard the health and wellbeing of our citizens," emphasized the participants in the plenary session.

The European Economic and Social Committee is an EU advisory body comprised of representatives of various social and professional groups from across the EU. Its main task is to generalize the opinions and initiatives put forward by citizens of EU countries, and defend their interests before key European institutions, including the Council of the EU, European Commission, and European Parliament.

Photo: Getty Images

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