UN Proposal to Prosecute the U.S. for "Ecocide"

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference, which opened in Cancun, Mexico on Monday, has yielded another example of how supposedly idealistic notions concocted by Western liberals, no matter how daft, can be transformed into weapons for international power politics. Bolivia has renewed its call for the establishment of an International Tribunal for Climate Justice that would be able to sanction governments that engage in "ecocide," defined as crimes against biodiversity, nature and Mother Earth.

Bolivia's UN Ambassador Pablo Salon asserted it was unacceptable for some developed countries to refuse a new commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. "Developed countries were looking for solutions that would put the onus on developing countries to reduce emissions," Salon said. Making "ecocide" the equivalent of a war crime (or a crime against peace) would apply exclusively to the actions of developed countries.

The tribunal idea did not originate in Bolivia, but in the United Kingdom last April. It is the brainchild of labor lawyer-turned-Green activist Polly Higgins. Her idea was to prosecute industries such as fossil fuels, mining, agriculture, chemicals and forestry before the existing International Criminal Court at The Hague. Even more alarmingly, some supporters want to prosecute ''climate deniers'' who oppose actions to combat global warming as eco-criminals. It's the stuff from which fears of world government grow.

But the United Nations is a misnomer, and the climate issue has never been about saving the planet. The world is divided into contending nation states who have used the climate issue to press for a redistribution of wealth and power. Bolivia has taken the Luddite notion of Higgins and expanded it into an "anti-imperialist" campaign against the United States and Western civilization.

On November 30, Ambassador Salon had a column in the liberal UK Guardian newspaper laying the groundwork for why the U.S. should be first in the dock at a climate tribunal because  it has "the largest historical responsibility for carbon emissions." He argued.

Unfortunately the US responsibility goes further than just inaction; it effectively sabotaged international progress on climate change. At Copenhagen and in the year since, the US has been the prime instigator behind attempts to end the Kyoto protocol, the only binding mechanism on climate change. Instead they harangue, bully, and insist that any climate negotiations must be based on the non-binding Copenhagen accord which would take us backwards in the fight against climate change.

Salon reportedly has a picture of Che Guevara hanging in his office. He works for President Evo Morales who was first elected in 2005 as head of the Movement Towards Socialism party and immediately proclaimed Bolivia was joining an "anti-imperialist front" with Cuba and Venezuela. Morales is slated to arrive in Cancún on Dec. 9, to make a speech which will include the climate tribunal proposal.

Last April, Morales hosted The World's People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Salon claims 30,000 politicians, scientists, and activists from 140 countries attended what has been called the "Woodstock" of climate change summits. The theme then and now is that the developed countries must step back and end their growth so that the developing countries can move forward. The transfer of capital and technology to the developing world is a moral obligation of the West, which must not place any limits on what the developing countries do. And if the developed countries balk, they should be prosecuted for ecocide.

While the tribunal idea is unlikely to be adopted in Cancun, the international transfer of wealth and power has been at the core of the UNFCCC program from its inception and is the basis for the Kyoto Protocol. Even President Barack Obama could not accept its terms last year and hopefully Salon's denunciation of U.S. policy will be confirmed again.  


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