On 26 April 2013, the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) adopted a revised draft resolution on “Crime prevention and criminal justice responses to illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora” (E/CN.15/2013/L.20/Rev).
The draft resolution recognizes CITES as “the principal international agreement for the legal trade” in protected species of wild fauna and flora, encourages Member States to make illicit trafficking in wild fauna and flora a serious crime when organized criminal groups are involved, and also encourages Member States to promote efforts to prevent illicit trafficking in wild fauna and flora through, inter alia, public information and public awareness campaigns.
The draft resolution, to be recommended to the Economic and Social Council for adoption, also requests Member states to fully utilize the UN Conventions against Transnational Organized Crime and against Corruption to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in wild fauna and flora and strongly encourages Member States to take appropriate measures to prevent and combat illicit trafficking in wild fauna and flora, including the adoption of the necessary legislation for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of such trafficking.
The draft resolution further commends the efforts of the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and its members, namely the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the World Bank, and the World Customs Organization, and encourages UNODC, in coordination with its ICCWC partners, to continue its efforts to provide technical assistance and training to combat illicit trafficking in wild fauna and flora, including through the implementation of the ICCWC Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit.
The Secretary-General of CITES, John E. Scanlon, welcomed the adoption of the draft resolution and highlighted that it “recognizes certain wildlife crimes as a serious transnational organized crime and urges Member States to treat it as seriously as they do other crimes. This recognition by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the central policy body within the UN system dealing with such issues, is essential as it is through this forum that critical decisions are taken on tackling transnational organized crime at the global level.”
“The role of the Commission, as well as implementation of the UN Conventions against Transnational Organised Crime and Corruption, is indispensable in the fight against wildlife crime” said Scanlon.
The adoption of the draft resolution is seen as an important step in a process to ensure the full force of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime can be applied to effectively tackle transnational organized wildlife and forest crime. It follows a number of decisions and resolutions adopted during the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16) to CITES in March 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand, where the 178 Parties to CITES considered enforcement issues as one of the most pressing concerns.
During CoP16, a number of decisions and resolutions were adopted, all by consensus, addressing the need to, amongst other matters, treat wildlife crime as a serious crime; increase cooperation at the national, regional and international levels and across source, transit and range States; make better use of forensics, and; utilize specialized investigative techniques that are used to combat other serious crimes, such as illicit trade in narcotics.