AboutZoos, Since 2008


UN recog­nises wildlife crime as threat to rule of law

pub­lished 26 Sep­tem­ber 2012 | mod­i­fied 05 Decem­ber 2012

Poach­ing and the illicit traf­fick­ing of wildlife prod­ucts were raised on the floor of the United Nations Gen­eral Assem­bly for the first time Mon­day dur­ing dis­cus­sions on strength­en­ing national and inter­na­tional gov­er­nance. World lead­ers gath­er­ing in New York for the global body’s 67th annual meet­ing high­lighted wildlife traf­fick­ing along with other severe threats to the rule of law such as cor­rup­tion and drug running.

United Nations General Assembly Hall In a writ­ten state­ment, per­ma­nent Secu­rity Coun­cil mem­ber United States high­lighted “the harm caused by wildlife poach­ing and traf­fick­ing to con­ser­va­tion efforts, rule of law, gov­er­nance and eco­nomic devel­op­ment.” The rapidly-​growing illicit inter­na­tional trade in endan­gered species prod­ucts, such as rhino horn, ele­phant ivory and tiger parts, is now esti­mated to be worth $810 bil­lion per year globally.

“Such organ­ised crime is increas­ingly affect­ing the envi­ron­ment and bio­di­ver­sity through poach­ing and ille­gal fish­ing,” Gabon’s Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo said dur­ing the High-​level Meet­ing on the Rule of Law. “Gabon intends to strengthen its crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to com­bat this phe­nom­e­non. But such efforts will require a greater inter­na­tional legal cooperation.”

Per­ma­nent mem­ber France also empha­sised the sever­ity and neg­a­tive impacts of wildlife crime. “There are still entire sec­tors of activ­ity with­out any legal safety,” French Min­is­ter Del­e­gate for Devel­op­ment Pas­cal Can­fin said. “Inter­na­tional law is lack­ing when it comes to the plun­der­ing of nat­ural resources, for exam­ple, or the traf­fick­ing of fauna.”

Pres­i­dent Bongo took the occa­sion to reaf­firm his country’s com­mit­ment to “com­bat­ing vio­la­tions of the Con­ven­tion on Inter­na­tional Trade [in] Endan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora as well as other con­ven­tions to pro­tect the envi­ron­ment and biodiversity.”

In response to record lev­els of ele­phant poach­ing in Africa, Pres­i­dent Bongo over­saw the burn­ing of Gabon’s seized ivory stock­pile ear­lier this year after a full audit sup­ported by WWF and TRAF­FIC. Organ­ised crim­i­nal syn­di­cates, some­times linked to armed insur­gent groups, are believed to be behind many of the tens of thou­sands of ele­phant poach­ing deaths occur­ring in Africa each year. Ivory tusks are highly valu­able on Asian black markets.

Illicit wildlife traf­fick­ing can have severe con­se­quences for peo­ple as well as the envi­ron­ment, yet it is not con­sid­ered a seri­ous crime by many gov­ern­ments. It is often a low risk and high profit crim­i­nal activ­ity, which is a dan­ger­ous com­bi­na­tion. Gov­ern­ments have made a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward by intro­duc­ing the issue into this impor­tant forum on the rule of law. We now call on all them to increase their law enforce­ment responses to wildlife crime on a com­men­su­rate basis
(Wendy Elliott, WWF Global Species Pro­gramme Manager)

Roland Melisch, Direc­tor of TRAFFIC’s Africa & Europe pro­grammes said: “Good gov­er­nance is essen­tial to pre­vent crimes such as illicit wildlife traf­fick­ing. Coun­tries need to be held account­able to their com­mit­ments under rel­e­vant United Nations treaties.”

WWF and its part­ner TRAF­FIC, the wildlife mon­i­tor­ing net­work, are cam­paign­ing for greater pro­tec­tion of threat­ened species such as rhi­nos, tigers and ele­phants. In order to save endan­gered ani­mals, source, tran­sit and demand coun­tries must all improve law enforce­ment, cus­toms con­trols and judi­cial sys­tems. WWF and TRAF­FIC are also urg­ing gov­ern­ments in con­sumer coun­tries to under­take demand reduc­tion efforts to curb the use of endan­gered species products.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at WWF. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Souce: WWF News, 25.09.2012)

UN Biodiversity decade
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Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

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