CITES and UNEP support strengthening of wildlife laws

88 countries and 13 dependent territories need to strengthen their legal frameworks for combating illegal trade in wildlife

17 countries, including 3 EAC Partner States, identified by CITES as requiring priority attention

Geneva, 5 May 2015 – According to the latest figures released by the National Legislation Project of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife and Flora (CITES), 88 countries and 13 dependent territories need to strengthen their legal frameworks for the effective implementation of CITES, including to combat illegal trade in wildlife.
The CITES National Legislation Project has identified 17 countries that require attention as a priority, namely Algeria, Belize, Plurinational State of Bolivia, Comoros, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Pakistan, Paraguay, Rwanda, Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania and Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Elephant with its head tilted, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana

Elephant with its head tilted, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana. Thousands of elephants are killed every year for ivory.  Photo Courtesy of Wildlife-Pictures-Online.com

Pursuant to CITES resolutions and decisions and following the call from the UN Secretary General to strengthen the UN System response to tackling illegal trade in wild fauna and flora, UNEP and the CITES Secretariat today announced a collaborative initiative to provide assistance to priority countries and territories, upon their request, to enhance their legislation.

This includes the provision of targeted legal advice on the four basic domestic measures required by CITES, compilation of examples of best legislation, drafting support and close cooperation with UNODC and UNDP on the implementation of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the strengthening of the rule of law and the fight against corruption. A Webpage containing model laws, examples of existing legislation and relevant information has been created by the CITES Secretariat and can be found at http://cites.org/legislation.

“Ensuring the 35,000 species of plants and animals listed under CITES are not illegally traded or exploited unsustainably requires effective national legal frameworks in each of the 181 Parties to the Convention. This joint initiative between CITES and UNEP will offer targeted technical support to countries to meet CITES legislative requirements, which is critical to fight the illegal trade in wildlife” said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General.
“At the first United Nations Environment Assembly in 2014, the Executive Director was requested to continue to support national Governments, upon their request, to develop and implement the environmental rule of law. This joint initiative between CITES and UNEP will help build national legislation, and in that context to support the fight against the illegal wildlife trade” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNEP.

In June 2014, the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of UNEP adopted Resolution 1/3 on Illegal Trade in Wildlife, which spoke to the need to implement existing commitments, ensure synergies in efforts to address illicit trade in wildlife and forest resources, and to enhance international coordination to counter the illegal trade. The Resolution also called upon member States and regional economic integration organizations to:

  • Support work to reinforce the legal framework, including through deterrent measures, where necessary, and to strengthen capacity throughout the entire enforcement chain;

The UNEA Resolution requested the Executive Director of UNEP:

  • To continue to support national Governments, upon their request, to develop and implement the environmental rule of law, and in that context to continue its efforts to fight the illegal wildlife trade and to continue to promote actions, including through capacity-building.

The UNEA Resolution also recognizes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as the principal international instrument for ensuring that international trade in specimens of endangered wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, and, together with the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), and national legislation, provides the legal basis for addressing much of the illicit trade in wildlife and forest resources.

This joint initiative was made possible by a generous financial contribution from the governments of the United Kingdom and Japan to the CITES Secretariat and the financial and technical support of the Division of Environmental Law & Conventions (DELC) of UNEP.

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