Per @marenabrinkhurst and @mckinleycharles question regarding what [quote=“marenabrinkhurst, post:3, topic:25301”]
“Environmental crimes will now be considered in investigations of cases that fall within the ICC’s existing remit”
might mean, my understanding is that this refers to the jurisdiction of the ICC. According to the Rome Statutes the ICC has jurisdiction over persons (particularly relevant since most international courts only deal with states) who commit the most serious of crimes of concern to the international community. This is a rather high burden to meet and the Rome Statute defines these crimes: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression). These crimes have specific definitions so it would seem that what the ICC is doing is allowing themselves the leeway to also pursue environmental crimes when they are in conjunction with these defined crimes.
Potentially, the court will use the definition of one of the crimes, for example
“‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: . . . (k) Other inhuman acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health”<
in order to incorporate environmental crimes into one of these defined crimes that the ICC has jurisdiction over. Notice that there is still a high bar to meet of the criminal act being done intentionally to harm others, so many actors may still avoid liability so long as their actions were not intended to harm persons. The extent to which then this will be useful in bringing certain actors to justice or providing relief will be dependent on how the court will interpret intentionality for these crimes in the future and how the court fits these crimes within its current jurisdiction.
It is worth noting as well that the ICC has a number of mechanisms for bringing cases forward, when a State Party or the Security Council brings a case to the attention of the court, or through approval from the Pre-Trial Chamber. In looking at the policy document the ICC released with this announcement, it appears that they will emphasize the role of independent Prosecutor’s in identifying these cases and pursuing them and is currently developing an evolving case selection criteria. The policy document also emphasizes the limited number of cases that the Court will take on, in keeping with it’s jurisdictional purview of crimes with significant ‘gravity.’ All this is to say that the Court will only take on really egregious environmental cases and that they are to some extent hindered by whether the case is brought to their attention and compliance of State Party’s in bringing actors before the Court.