THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE’S ROLE IN COMBATING ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME THROUGH CRIMINAL LAW.
On 23 November 2022, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the Terms of Reference of the Committee of Experts on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law (PC-ENV), which has been set up and entrusted with the elaboration a new Convention on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law.
With the acceleration of degradation phenomena (climate change, erosion of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources, destruction of habitats, etc.), the environmental issues and offences have evolved, including organised crime on a transnational scale. According to INTERPOL and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), environmental crime is estimated as the world’s fourth-largest criminal enterprise, with criminals exploiting the differences in approaches taken by countries. “What may constitute a crime in one country, may not in another, effectively enabling criminals to go ‘forum shopping’”, resulting in lasting damage and degradation.
The new Council of Europe Convention will provide a common global framework, laying down a general basis of pan-European criminal law, in line with the transboundary nature of the environmental challenge that needs to be met.
BACKGROUND TO THE PC-ENV:
In June 2022, the Steering Committee of the Council of Europe for overseeing and coordinating activities in the field of crime prevention and crime control – the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), decided that drafting a new Convention was feasible and appropriate, following a Feasibility Study (for further information: CDPC_Environment). Subsequently, the PC-ENV under the authority of the Committee of Ministers and the CDPC will begin its work on the new global Convention in early 2023.