Ecocide in the Amazon: The Contested Politics of Environmental Rights in Brazil

Malayna Raftopoulos, Joanna Morley

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Though a discussion of the 2019 Brazilian Amazon fires, this article examines the contested politics of environmental rights in Brazil. It analyses how the concept of ecocide can offer a useful lens with which to articulate the socio-ecological consequences of President Bolsonaro’s extractive imperialism, and the persistent failure of current international governance frameworks to address the continuing widespread destruction of the natural environment. Firstly, the article places the concept of ecocide within the context of the international governance framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the challenges that natural resource exploitation presents to the achievement of sustainable development in Latin America. Secondly, it presents an overview of the concept of ecocide that includes cultural genocide as a method for undermining a way of life and a technique for group destruction. Lastly, through an analysis of Brazil’s environmental politics, contested claims of sovereignty and the recent push for the industrialisation of the Amazon, the article considers whether claims of ecocide in the Brazilian Amazon can be substantiated when using the criteria for the crime of ecocide–namely the size, duration and impact of the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems in the Amazon rainforest.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberDOI: 10.1080/13642987.2020.1746648
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020


  • Amazon
  • Brazil
  • Bolivia
  • Climate Change
  • Ecocide
  • Enironmental rights
  • Natural resources
  • Sustainable Development

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