First, do no harm

“On a quest to make Ecocide a Crime. ‘First do no harm’ & from that principle we can create maximum freedom for all from a place of care, love and trust.” (@PollyHiggins) Polly Higgins is a lawyer. She says on her website “I’m rethinking law; my vision is a world that works from one simple overriding principle: ‘first do no harm.’ That is a world where people are thriving in harmony with nature. I believe in well-being for all beings and I apply permaculture principles to new law.”

You can find information about Polly Higgins work at

In my last post I said I would reflect upon Evers article in Funky Raw. This article is adapted from his Masters thesis, Symbiosis Through Autonomy in the Community of Nature (University of Utrecht, Ethics Institute, 2012) and can be found online. In this thesis, Evers is searching for a metaphor that will help us to find ways to live with each other within the living planet. He is struggling to find a story to hold us and support us to find freedom within a  respect for the interconnections of living relationships. Reading my emails today, one was from Polly Higgins updating me on her recent activities and I am struck by her words and connect to my reflections on Evers article. As it is election day tomorrow I am also moved to share with you the following endorsements for Polly’s work, including one from Caroline Lucus, MP for Brighton Pavillion and former leader of the Green party of England and Wales. The following endorsements are taken from the website eradicating

Vandana Shiva, physicist and environmental activist

The Ecocide trial is a very important step in waking us up to the violence which is the foundation of the current economy. We need another model that is non-violent, a model which makes peace with the earth. Ecocide must stop. The ideal of limitless growth is leading to limitless violations of the rights of the Earth and of the rights of nature. This is ecocide. We need to stop the destruction of the very basis of life on Earth and of human survival.

Michael Mansfield QC, leading human rights lawyer said
The problem in the past is that if you hold a company responsible [for environmental destruction], who sits in the dock? All the court can do is fine the company if it has transgressed. Who pays the fine? We do, because they pass the cost of the fine onto their customers – so it does not have very much effect, at all. But who is responsible? There are real people in the company and the object of the Ecocide act is not just aimed at companies it is aimed at individuals… individual responsibility is the only way there will be any change.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and former leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, said
Establishing the law of ecocide would signal a major breakthrough in the way we deal with crimes against the natural world. Polly Higgins’ groundbreaking proposal to list ecocide as the fifth global crime against peace would go a long way towards deterring and holding to account CEOs, companies and nations which cause, in Higgins’ words, “the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory… to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished”. Ranking ecocide alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, and war crimes would empower the courts to charge chief executives and members of boards of directors for environmental vandalism. Whether it’s oil drilling in the Arctic, deforestation in the Amazon, or overfishing in the Atlantic, activities which impact severely on global ecosystems would be brought under far closer scrutiny. It could also play a significant role in encouraging companies to drop the dirty, polluting industries of old, and invest in the clean technologies and renewable energy solutions of the future.

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