Dozens of Nations Pledge Stronger Efforts to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade
The United States, the European Union and 44 others signed Feb. 13 in London a declaration setting forth new efforts to combat illegal trade in wildlife, which is valued at about $19 billion annually and has increased significantly in recent years. This declaration follows the Obama administration’s Feb. 11 announcement of a new national strategy to curtail such trade.
The declaration states that the scale and consequences of the poaching and trafficking of wildlife demand a response. Effects including undermining the rule of law and good governance, encouraging corruption, proceeds used in some cases to support other criminal activities, and damage to ecosystems and the livelihoods of communities dependent on natural resources. These effects are worsening as the illegal wildlife trade reaches unprecedented levels in some places and is becoming increasingly marked by the involvement of well-resourced and organized groups, including transnational criminal networks.
To counter these effects, the signatories have committed themselves to take the following actions.
- work to eradicate both the demand for and supply of illegal wildlife products through measures such as raising public awareness, encouraging the destruction of seized wildlife products being traded illegally, eliminating government procurement of products from species threatened with extinction (with certain exceptions), taking measures to ensure private sector entities legally source any wildlife products used within their sectors, supporting existing prohibitions on commercial trade in elephant ivory, and using labeling and traceability measures
- ensure that criminals involved in illegal wildlife trade are prosecuted and penalized sufficiently to provide an effective deterrent through measures such as criminalizing poaching, wildlife trafficking and related crimes as well as corruption and bribery that facilitate such actions; using the full range of existing legislation and law enforcement deployed against other forms of organized crime; and strengthening the ability to achieve successful prosecutions and deterrent sanctions
- strengthening law enforcement by increasing the number of officers at key sites, establishing and maintaining national interagency and cross-border mechanisms to coordinate actions against wildlife crime, and using the full range of investigative techniques and tools already deployed against other forms of domestic and transnational organized crime
- conduct further research into the scale of the environmental, political, social and economic implications of the illegal wildlife trade and the impact of measures taken to prevent and combat it