Desperate times call for desperate measures. Throughout history, inaction or failure of the state to tackle pressing social problems and injustices has given rise to political acts of civil disobedience. Environmental and animal activists, too, engage in the time-honoured tradition of breaking the law as a way to increase public pressure on corporate actors and drive social and legal change towards a greener future.
In this presentation, Dr. Saskia Stucki, senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, presents two pathbreaking judgments from Switzerland and Germany that both have redefined and enlarged the (criminal law) notion of necessity as a justification for acts of civil disobedience undertaken against the imminent dangers of climate change and industrial animal cruelty, respectively. Read together, these judgments may point towards a ‘greening’ of the necessity defence, and could be seen as a necessary and appropriate judicial response to the state’s overall inaction in fighting the climate crisis and institutionalized agro-criminality.
Find the relevant documents here:
Genève Cour de Justice (Chambre pénale d’appel et de révision), judgment of 14 October 2020: http://ge.ch/justice/donnees/decis/parp/show/2504994?meta=dt_decision%3A%5B10.10.2020+TO+*%5D&doc=
Oberlandesgericht Naumburg, judgment of 22 February 2018: https://www.landesrecht.sachsen-anhalt.de/bsst/document/KORE508972018