Just weeks before the most important global conference on wildlife trade, all UN member states have signalled their determination to tackle illicit trafficking of wildlife by unanimously adopting a new resolution at the UN General Assembly.
The resolution highlights the concern of governments around the world about the current poaching crisis and the scale of the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products as well as its adverse economic, social and environmental impacts.
Coming a year after the world united to fight wildlife crime with the adoption of the first, historic resolution against wildlife trafficking, the new resolution adds to the growing international momentum to tackle the scourge, which threatens the survival of numerous species as well as security and sustainable development.
“This resolution shows that stopping wildlife crime remains high on the international agenda and a key focus of governments across the globe,” said Elisabeth McLellan, WWF Head, Wildlife Crime Initiative. “Progress has been made over the past year, but political momentum and commitments must be urgently translated into more concrete measures in all countries.”
Initiated by Gabon and Germany, the resolution was co-sponsored by another 68 countries, including the five permanent members of the Security Council and many that are critical to the global fight against wildlife crime, particularly the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade – such as Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Tanzania, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Adopted unanimously, the short resolution contains a number of significant elements regarding greater transparency and further review of the response of UN member states.
Calling on all countries to implement their commitments under last year’s resolution ‘fully and without delay’, the new resolution specifically welcomed the first UN Secretary-General’s report on Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife, endorsed a high-level event on trafficking on the next World Wildlife Day on March 3rd 2017; and encouraged members to revisit the issue next year.
The UNSG report outlines the progress that member states have made in implementing the recommendations of last year’s resolution. While only 51 countries responded, it is clear that important steps are being taken by many countries.
Most of the 51 countries reported taking measures against poaching, while well over half classify illicit trafficking in wildlife as a serious crime. Three countries increased the maximum penalties for illicit trafficking in wildlife in 2015, while twenty seven took measures to treat offences connected to the illegal trade in wildlife as a predicate offence for money-laundering.
Half of the respondents had established wildlife crime task forces, while 21 had taken steps to support alternative livelihoods for communities, primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The report also made 33 recommendations for states and UN organizations to consider, including the possibility of appointing a Special Envoy on Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife.
“WWF believes that a Special Envoy would help to promote even greater awareness about the threats posed by wildlife crime and galvanize more international action,” said McLellan.