The term 'ecocide' refers to the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory. In a series of resolutions, the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council have drawn attention to the relationship between a safe and healthy environment and the enjoyment of human rights. These resolutions have raised awareness of how fundamental ecosystems are to the enjoyment of human rights.
The Ecocide Project (EP) of the Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study, University of London is a unique academic forum that provides a national focal point for leading, facilitating and promoting research into the problem of ecocide, its human rights implications and the drive by our partners - the 'Eradicating Ecocide' initiative - to make it the 5th Crime Against Peace . The project seeks to integrate the shared interests of scholars, practitioners and activists in the environmental and human rights fields; stimulate discussion and collaboration between academics and non-academics, and enhance relevant policy impact at the national and international level.
The Ecocide Project hosts conferences, workshops, seminars, short courses and other events to promote and facilitate research on the problem of ecocide and the potential solutions. It leads and manages policy impact research and training projects, and carries out consultancy work on ecocide law development.
Please visit our dedicated project website here: www.extremeenergy.org
As conventional fossil fuels become exhausted governments and corporations are turning to progressively more extreme methods to secure energy supplies with increasingly severe social and environmental consequences, for the growing numbers of people affected. While, until recently, the Athabasca tar sands in Canada was the poster child for such practices, a whole raft of new techniques such as shale oil and gas, coal-bed methane and underground coal gasification are now threatening to become ubiquitous throughout large parts of the globe. Energy extraction is already a major driver of human rights abuses worldwide but the scope and severity of these impacts seem set to massively increase in the near future.
The Extreme Energy Initiative is the only academic forum in the world to concentrate specifically on the effects of unconventional fossil fuel extraction on society and the environment. The methods and practices of extreme energy extraction are necessarily fast changing as resources deplete and new more extreme methods are developed to try to replace them. This poses challenges for research in terms of the timely dissemination of information. To this end, the Extreme Energy Initiative will host conferences, workshops, seminars and short courses, and initiate and facilitate publishing. The initiative will bring together scholars, practitioners, policy makers and activists working on issues related to extreme energy production and its human rights implications in order to stimulate discussion and collaboration and enhance relevant policy impact nationally and internationally.
The Extreme Energy Initiative collaborates with numerous colleagues internationally and in the UK, and with a number of supporting campaigns.
There is ample reportage to evidence the negative effects business activity of all types can have on the provision of human rights. Equally, there can be little doubt economic development, usually driven through business activity and trade, is necessary for any state to provide the institutions and infrastructure to secure and provide human rights for their citizens.
The United Nations and businesses recognise this tension and are collaborating to effect change in business behaviours through voluntary initiatives such as the Global Compact and John Ruggie’s Guiding Principles. Yet voluntary approaches are evidently failing to prevent human rights violations and there are few alternatives in law for affected communities to seek justice.
Additionally, there is an ever-increasing pressure for corporations, governments and financial institutions to continually pursue profit to perpetuate economic growth, creating a motivation for those institutions to participate in risky economic behaviour. Risk-taking in pursuit of profit can lead to financial crises and a reduced ability for governments to realize social and economic rights for their citizens.
The Human Rights Consortium’s Corporate Power and Human Rights Project has been established to propagate creative approaches to dissolving the tension between human rights and business activity. The project will act as a platform from which academics, activists, businesspeople and policymakers can transmit their ideas and engage their peers to robustly challenge their feasibility in order to develop meaningful alternatives to existing approaches. It will also look at the broad structural impacts of corporate power on economies and human rights provision.
The Corporate Power and Human Rights Project hosts conferences, workshops, seminars, and other events to facilitate research and creative thinking to develop solutions to these new human rights challenges.
A special Corporate Power and Human Rights issue of the International Journal of Human Rights is currently being put together. Please click here for more details.
Professor Damien Short