CEOs whose businesses commit environmental crimes can now be tried in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The ICC is looking to clamp down on land grabbing, a practise that has seen multinationals take over large areas of foreign land to exploit its natural resources without benefiting the local inhabitants.
The move could reshape how business is done in developing countries says Global Witness, an NGO that has been urging the ICC to investigate the issue.
“Chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment has become an accepted way of doing business in many resource-rich yet cash-poor countries,” said Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director at Global Witness.
CEOs whose businesses are found to be complicit in razing tropical rainforests, poisoning water supplies or seizing land will face prosecution.
“The ICC announcement sends a powerful message that the terrible impacts of land grabbing and environmental destruction have been acknowledged at the highest level of criminal justice,” Ms Caldwell added.