IISD-Wildlife Crime: Fanning the Ivory Pyres



Stopping wildlife crime has truly become, as the title of a recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) high-level dialogue pronounced, “Everybody's Business.” And it seems everyone - from multilateral organizations to national governments to the private sector and to non-governmental organizations - is getting in on the action.



The plight of the African elephant continues to galvanize the most attention, arguably serving as the face of the fight against wildlife crime. So far this year, the elephant poaching crisis was the focus of two UN Days and a motion at the September meeting of the IUCN WCC, and has spurred numerous celebrity, private sector and national announcements taking aim at stemming their illegal slaughter and trade in ivory.



Through the lens of the elephant, this policy update investigates how international pressure to stop wildlife crime has grown and changed this year. It recounts key actions taken by an array of actors in the policy spectrum, illuminating some of the positions likely to impact the upcoming Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Fauna and Flora (CITES). Here governments will debate over 60 proposals to amend CITES appendices, which determine the level of protection afforded to elephants, among numerous other species, as well as regulations on trade in ivory.


The Global Stage


Wildlife crime has transcended from policy buzzword to an actionable issue at the highest policy levels. For the last two years, the UN General Assembly, led by the world's governments, has adopted resolutions linking poaching for ivory, and wildlife crime in general, to transnational criminal networks and financing for terrorist groups, thus elevating the issue to a national (and international) security concern. Resolution (A/RES/70/301), adopted in July 2015, calls on Member States to make trafficking involving organized criminal groups a serious crime in accordance with national legislation and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. As a follow-up to the resolution this year, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the first-ever global assessment of wildlife and forest crime, noting nearly 7,000 different species accounted for more than 164,000 seizures in 120 countries. In his speech introducing the report, UNODC Director General Yury Fedotov called for criminalizing the possession of illegal wildlife. The 2016 version of the resolution was adopted by the UNGA in early September, calling for a high-level discussion to be held on the 2017 World Wildlife Day. With regard to the text, Herald Braun (Germany) noted that globally, illegal wildlife trade was valued at around $19 billion annually…



posted on: Monday, 19 September 2016

By: Lauren Anderson, IISD Reporting Services


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