On 23 July 2021, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution on Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife. This Resolution reaffirms and builds upon other Resolutions on this topic adopted by the UNGA in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.
The Resolution recognizes the legal framework provided by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and its important role as the primary mechanism for regulating international trade in CITES listed species of fauna and flora. It further welcomes the relevant Resolutions and Decisions adopted at the eighteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP18) in August 2019.
The Resolution urges UN Member States to take decisive steps to prevent, combat and eradicate wildlife crime. It calls upon Member States to make illicit trafficking in protected wild fauna and flora a serious crime to ensure that, where the offense is transnational in nature and involves an organized criminal group, effective international cooperation can be afforded under the relevant international Conventions, such as the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
The Resolution places strong emphasis on the link between wildlife crime and financial crime and calls upon Member States to integrate financial crime investigations into wildlife crime investigations. The Resolution calls upon Member States to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to monitor and investigate wildlife crime linked to the internet, to increase exchange of information and knowledge at national and international levels, and to prohibit, prevent and counter any form of corruption that facilitates wildlife crime. Through the Resolution, the UNGA also encourages Member States to enforce all necessary sanitary monitoring, measures and controls to protect human or animal health with regard to markets selling wildlife specimens.
CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero welcomed the Resolution saying: “This UNGA Resolution is strongly supportive of the CITES legal framework and reflects the continued political concern over the devastating impacts of wildlife crime. It reaffirms the intrinsic value of biological diversity and its various contributions to sustainable development and human well-being. The UNGA Resolution aligns well with the Resolutions and Decisions adopted at CITES CoP18 and provides a strong basis for Member States to respond to and address wildlife crime. Vigorously pursuing the implementation of all of these important measures is essential.”
“Wildlife crime must be treated as a serious crime, and investment is needed in the tools available so they can be deployed against this transnational organized crime, including specialized investigative techniques, financial investigations, investigations into allegations of corruption, mutual legal assistance, extraditions, and others. Success in the fight against wildlife crime is also highly dependent on strong and effective international cooperation and well-coordinated collaborative effort,” Higuero added.