CITES promotes effective solutions for coordinated border controls of wildlife and its products at World Customs Organization Conference

Geneva, 14 May 2013: The CITES Secretary-General was invited to address as a keynote speaker the 2013 WCO IT Conference & Exhibition being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates from 14 to 16 May.

During his intervention Mr John E. Scanlon highlighted the excellent collaboration and shared common objectives between CITES and the World Customs Organization (WCO) including to (when countries chose to trade) facilitate legal and sustainable trade, whilst ensuring that illegal wildlife trade can be identified at the borders, intercepted and responded to appropriately.

Welcoming the use of information technologies in this area, Mr Scanlon stressed that: “we are aware that today’s Custom officers have a multitude of tasks to perform and with a myriad of contraband forms to watch out for.”  “CITES is working closely with its partners to find and to deploy new and creative ways to use state-of-the-art technology to support the indispensable role of Custom officers in regulating international trade in wildlife”, he added.

Mr. Scanlon also highlighted the worse spike in decades in the illegal killing of elephants and rhinos for their ivory and horn and the imminent threat it poses for these majestic animals, and for people, and of the need to work together, including through the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), to end this crime.

Examples of technologies and partnerships

CITES is working jointly with both the WCO and national Customs agencies in the application of new technologies to more effectively and efficiently regulate and control international trade in wildlife.

One of the very concrete results from the close collaboration between CITES and WCO has been the inclusion of standards related to the development of CITES electronic permitting systems in the WCO Data Model.  This achievement assists Parties to CITES in developing national and regional e-permitting systems that are harmonized with international standards and Single Windows environments.

This will result in more effective ways to control international trade in wildlife, and contribute to an integrated inter-agency approach in achieving desired objectives, particularly with regard to efforts related to more effective coordinated border management.

For example, when implementing CITES e-permitting systems that are in line with the WCO Data model, these systems can be more easily integrated with other regulatory systems making transactions more cost-effective, error-free, traceable and secure. This has also paved the way for for other MEAs, such as the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources, in the development of their own requisite electronic regulatory systems.

CITES is also using DNA technologies to provide Parties with better tools to identify and trace species and to fight illegal trade in wildlife. For example, in 2012, the Global Environment Facility provided South Africa with a multi-million USD project to reduce poaching of rhinoceroses and the illegal international trade in their horns by strengthening enforcement capacity through forensic-based technologies.

Efforts are also underway to use electronic devices to better track illegal trade in timber. For example, the CITES Secretariat and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) collaborated on a Review of Electronic and Semi-Electronic Timber Tracking Technologies to provide guidance to any country that is planning to use such systems.

See the full speech.