Conference: Law and the End of Anthropocentrism

Judiciary and Climate Change; Ecocide as an International Crime

The conference took place in Paushuize, in Utrecht.

In March 2023, the conference Law and the End of Anthropocentrism. Judiciary and Climate Change; Ecocide as an International Crime took place at the Paushuize in Utrecht, jointly organized by UCWOSL and Renforce (Utrecht University School of Law) and Pathways to Sustainability together with the Dutch Association for Environmental Law.

The aim of the conference was to reflect on the role of judiciary in mitigating climate change and to discuss the proposal to recognise ecocide as an international crime, together with the more than 100 participants. After an introduction by Chris Backes, Brian Preston, Hon Justice Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Sydney, gave an engaging keynote address. Preston discussed several climate cases and shared his perspective as a judge, providing valuable insights into the challenges of holding governments and corporations accountable for their actions.

The second keynote was delivered by Christina Voigt, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law and Professor at the University of Oslo. Voigt detailed her views on the background of the proposed ecocide provision as the fifth international crime in the Rome Statute, including her involvement in its drafting. Her presentation was informative and exciting, shedding light on the complexities of defining ecocide and the need for a legal framework to address it.

The conference also included reflections and panel discussions with former A-G Jaap Spier and distinguished experts from Utrecht University, such as Nathalie Dobson, Edward Brans, Frank Biermann, Daan van Uhm and Cedric Ryngaert. They shared their perspectives on the legal and policy implications of the conference topics. The discussions were informative and thought-provoking, offering interesting perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of integrating climate protection into innovative legal frameworks. In short, the conference was a very enjoyable gathering for anyone interested in the future of our climate and environment, and the role of law in it.