Legal experts from across the globe have drawn up a “historic” definition of ecocide, intended to be adopted by the international criminal court to prosecute the most egregious offences against the environment.
The draft law, unveiled on Tuesday, defines ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts”.
The Stop Ecocide Foundation initiative comes amid concerns that not enough is being done to tackle the climate and ecological crisis.
If adopted by the ICC’s members, it would become just the fifth offence the court prosecutes – alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression – and the first new international crime since the 1940s when Nazi leaders were prosecuted at the Nuremberg trials.
Prof Philippe Sands QC, of University College London, who co-chaired the panel that spent the past six months hammering out the definition, said: “The four other crimes all focus exclusively on the wellbeing of human beings. This one of course does that but it introduces a new non-anthropocentric approach, namely putting the environment at the heart of international law, and so that is original and innovative.
“For me the single most important thing about this initiative is that it’s part of that broader process of changing public consciousness, recognising that we are in a relationship with our environment, we are dependent for our wellbeing on the wellbeing of the environment and that we have to use various instruments, political, diplomatic but also legal to achieve the protection of the environment.”
An ecocide law has been mooted for decades, with the late Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme, pushing the concept at the 1972 UN environmental conference in Stockholm. More recently, ecocide was considered for inclusion in the 1998 Rome statute establishing the ICC before being dropped. The Scottish barrister Polly Higgins led a decade-long campaign for it to be recognised as a crime against humanity before her death in 2019.
The members of the panel, which also included experts from Samoa, Ecuador and the US, are hopeful that now is the right time for agreement.
The other co-chair, Dior Fall Sow, a UN jurist and former prosecutor from Senegal, said: “The environment is threatened worldwide by the very serious and persistent damage caused to it, which endangers the lives of the people who live in it. This definition helps to emphasise that the security of our planet must be guaranteed on an international scale.
“In the current context, where serious damage to the environment is increasingly important and affects a large number of states, their support could be gained for this new definition of the crime of ecocide. One can think, among others, of island developing states that are subject to ecological ecocides committed by corporations.”
Several small island nations, including Vanuatu, in the Pacific, and the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, called for “serious consideration” of a crime of ecocide at the ICC’s annual assembly of states parties in 2019.
The ICC has been criticised for not investigating major environmental crimes. In 2016, it said it would assess existing offences, such as crimes against humanity, in a broader context to include environmental destruction and landgrabs.
Sands said some panel members had pushed for the definition to explicitly mention climate change but that was rejected because of a desire to make it more difficult for countries – and corporations – to oppose the proposed new law. Instead, it created “a definition that catches the most egregious acts but doesn’t catch the kinds of daily activity that so many of us, myself included, and regions and peoples and countries are involved in which cause significant harm to the environment over the long term”.
He cited transboundary nuclear accidents, major oil spills and Amazon deforestation as potential examples of ecocide but, on a smaller geographical scale, also the unlawful killing of a significant protected species such as the two remaining northern white rhinos.
Jojo Mehta, from Stop Ecocide Foundation, said it was a “historic moment”, adding: “The resulting definition is well pitched between what needs to be done concretely to protect ecosystems and what will be acceptable to states. It’s concise, it’s based on strong legal precedents and it will mesh well with existing laws. Governments will take it seriously, and it offers a workable legal tool corresponding to a real and pressing need in the world.”
Internet down: Multiple global, Australian news sites down including BBC, New York Times, SMH, Age
The Verge, Financial Times and Bloomberg also experienced outages which lasted almost an hour, while locally, The Guardian, Nine, SMH and The Age were affected, including Channel 10 and 10play online. Users have also reported issues with 7Plus.
The outage has gone as far as sites for the White House along with the UK government’s website – gov.UK.
Retail giant Amazon, Reddit, Netflix, Pinterest, Twitch, PayPal and Shopify were also affected.
It appears News Corp sites were unaffected by the outage.
Internet sleuths have suggested a “big attack” but the outage was caused by a data centre provider, San Francisco based Fastly.
Most users were receiving ‘Error 503’ messages when attempting to access the sites and while a fix has been applied, users have been warned that they may “continue to experience decreased cache hit ratio and increased origin load as global services return”.
“When huge outages like this strike the internet, they are generally traced back to some central service provider, such as AWS,” said The Verge, which was forced to communicate through Google Docs.
“In this case, it seems the cause of the problem is due to a company called Fastly, which provides CDN (content delivery network) services to many websites.
The Age confirmed that tech teams for Nine publications, “including this masthead, confirmed that the issue was linked to CDN vendor Fastly.”
CDNs are “graphically distanced” networks of servers, which “help minimise delays in loading web page content, by reducing the physical distance between the servers and users”, according to The Australian’s David Swan.
Those servers are located in “data centres” around the world, connected via subsea cables.
“Fastly is one of four hosting service providers that looks after CDNs, Akamai, Cloudflare and Amazon Web Services, are the other three.
On its website, Fastly said: “The issue has been identified and a fix has been applied. Customers may experience increased origin load as global services return.”
Sites began to return but Fastly failed to indicate what had happened in the first place.
— Rhiannon Williams (@RhiannonJudithW)
Breaking: the internet. Huge parts of the web are currently offline, including Reddit, Twitch, and (regrettably) The Verge. We’ll keep you posted 👍
— The Verge (@verge)
Down Detector shows mass outages hitting major platforms all at the same time.
Cloud services like Fastly and AWS could be the root of the problem: pic.twitter.com/1kGWKckivn
— Dexerto (@Dexerto)
Giant dinosaur species found in Australia, among world’s largest | History News | Al Jazeera
Palaeontologists in Australia have identified a new species of dinosaur, naming it the Australotitan cooperensis and recognising it not only as the largest to ever roam the continent but also among the biggest in the world.
Australotitan, or the southern titan, was a long-necked sauropod that is estimated to have reached 25-30 metres (82-98 feet) in length and 5-6.5 metres (16-21 feet) in height, making it as long as a basketball court and as high as a two-storey building.
The findings were published in the journal PeerJ on Monday.
“It’s been a long time coming, but we are very proud to showcase Australia’s largest dinosaur species,” said Scott Hocknull, a palaeontologist at the Queensland Museum and a co-author of the study. “We know it was a plant-eating dinosaur. It had a very long neck and a very long tail and had the look of a typical brachiosaurus. But it was enormous. It was a titanosaurian.”
Nicknamed Cooper, after the nearby creek where it was first found in 2006, the dinosaur is estimated to have lived more than 90 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, and is estimated to have weighed about 67 tonnes.
“These are the largest dinosaurs that ever walked on earth and based on the preserved limb size comparisons, this new titanosaur is estimated to be in the top five largest in the world,” said Robyn Mackenzie, the director of the Eromanga Natural History Museum, who first spotted the dinosaur’s remains along with her husband on her family farm in southwest Queensland.
Since excavations for dinosaur fossils began in 2005 in the area, known as Eromanga Basin, two other large sauropods have also been discovered. They are nicknamed George and Zac.
“These dinosaur discoveries have opened a whole new world, not just to our family, but to people throughout Australia,” Mackenzie was quoted as saying by the 9News broadcaster. “It has been the most enriching journey.”
Hocknull told Al Jazeera it had been a “very long and painstaking task” to confirm that Cooper was a new species of dinosaur. The palaeontologists’ research relied on 3D scan models of bones to compare the dinosaur with its relatives in Australia and elsewhere in the world.
“When you have a dinosaur bone that weighs 200 kilograms (440 pounds), you can’t just put in a car and take them to other museums for comparison. So, we used 3D technology to scan the bones, so that I can go compare them in different museums and different collections,” he said.
The process took many years, but over that period Hocknell said: “We have been able to figure out that not only is it different, but it is Australia’s largest dinosaur species”.
The palaeontologist said the study found that the Australotitan was most closely related to three other sauropods that lived in Australia during the Cretaceous period – the Wintonotitan and the smaller Diamantinasaurus and Savannasaurus sauropods.
“That means they are one big happy family,” he said.
The new species also share relations with titanosaurians from South America and Asia, said Hocknell, suggesting they may have travelled to the continent from South America via Antarctica during periods of global warmth.
Or, he said, they might have island-hopped across ancient island archipelagos, which would eventually make up the present-day terrains of Southeast Asia and the Philippines.
South African woman gives birth to 10 babies, breaks Guinness World Record – Trending News News
A woman from South Africa’s Gauteng has broken a Guinness World Record as she gave birth to 10 babies at once. The record was previously set by Halima Cisse who gave birth to nine children in Morocco last month.
Gosiame Thamara Sithole’s husband Teboho Tsotetsi told Pretoria News that she delivered 10 babies at a hospital in Pretoria on June 7. The doctor, in fact, after medical scans earlier had detected that she will give birth to eight babies, but instead, she delivered seven boys and three girls by Caesarean section.
Gosiame Thamara, who has six-year-old twins, previously told the Pretoria News that her pregnancy was natural.
“It’s seven boys and three girls. She was seven months and seven days pregnant. I am happy. I am emotional,” Teboho Tsotetsi told Pretoria News.
Before the birth of her babies, Gosiame Thamara Sithole, during an interview with Pretoria News, had said, “I am shocked by my pregnancy. It was tough at the beginning. I was sick. It was hard for me. It’s still tough but I am used to it now. I don’t feel the pain anymore, but it’s still a bit tough. I just pray for God to help me deliver all my children in a healthy condition, and for me and my children to come out alive. I would be pleased about it.”
Gosiame Thamara Sithole (37) from Tembisa has given birth to a village breaking a world record with 10 kids at once last night. She delivered 7 boys and 3 girls. A true meaning of aiyate Sione. pic.twitter.com/pK2Bj15ZTm
— Man’s NOT Barry Roux (@AdvoBarryRoux)
At first, doctors had said that she was expecting six children (sextuplets). Following several other scans, Gosiame Thamara Sithole was told that she will deliver octuplets, but ultimately, gave birth to 10 children.
Gosiame Thamara Sithole had said that the two babies could not be detected initially because they were inside the wrong tube.
Professor Dini Mawela, deputy head of the school of medicine at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, said that Sithole’s case was rare. It was usually caused by fertility treatments, professor said. However, Sithole had clarified earlier that she was not on fertility treatment.
“It’s quite a unique situation. I don’t know how often it happens. It’s extremely high risk (pregnancy). It’s a highly complex and high-risk situation. The danger is that, because there is not enough space in the womb for the children, the tendency is that they will be small. What would happen is that they would take them out pre-term because there is a risk if they keep them longer in there. The babies will come out small, chances of survival compromised. But all this depends on how long she carried them for,” Professor Dini Mawela told Pretoria News.
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