CITES keynote remarks at the ninth INECE Conference on "Enforcement Cooperation: Strengthening Environmental Governance”

The International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) held its ninth International Conference entitled “Enforcement Cooperation: Strengthening Environmental Governance” from 20 to 24 June 2011 in British Columbia, Canada.

The conference brought together senior judges, prosecutors, national enforcement agencies, representatives of international institutions, including the Chief Enforcement Officer of the CITES Secretariat, and researchers. Their aim was to identify concrete actions to combat environmental crime and strengthen compliance with, and enforcement of, domestic laws implementing key global multilateral environmental agreements.

This is the first time that CITES participated in an INECE conference, since the creation of this network in 1990, reflecting the desire on the part of CITES and INECE to explore new opportunities for supporting national environmental authorities with their compliance and enforcement efforts. The conference has set the stage for future INECE-CITES collaboration on wildlife compliance and enforcement-related matters.

Addressing the international conference via video link from Geneva, the CITES Secretary-General, Mr John E. Scanlon, stressed the importance of strong national institutions to implement domestic laws that give effect to international commitments. He also stressed the fact that global initiatives and commitments amounted to very little without domestic capacity to implement them. As the international community considered reforming environmental and sustainable development governance in the lead-up to Rio+201, it must consider how such reforms would better support national compliance and enforcement efforts. For instance, he said, consideration could be given to whether the Global Environment Facility could be expanded to enable funding of compliance and enforcement priorities that are directly linked to eligible States achieving any of their international environmental commitments, including under CITES.

In the second part of his keynote remarks, Mr Scanlon noted that CITES created a globally agreed framework for regulating trade in wildlife, but insisted that the success of the Convention rested on national laws, science and enforcement. The CITES Secretariat efforts were focussed on supporting national governments in addressing all three areas.  He highlighted one such initiative, namely the launch of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) last November, an initiative by CITES, ICPO-INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO), established to support national enforcement efforts. Finally, he explained that CITES had a powerful compliance mechanism that could lead to the suspension of trade, but it lacked a financial incentive mechanism. 

The CITES Chief Enforcement Officer, Mr John Sellar, who was attending the meeting, made a presentation to a Panel session where he stressed the importance of providing support to front line officers from police, Customs and park ranger departments. He explained the level of support coming from CITES, and through ICCWC, to support national governments in these endeavours. 

Earlier in the day, Mr Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, had opened the INECE session with remarks on the importance of fully implementing multilateral environmental agreements through robust national strategies. Mr. Steiner had recognized the importance of INECE and its efforts to strengthen international collaboration in combating environmental crime.


1 The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) is being organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution 64/236 (A/RES/64/236). The Conference will take place in Brazil on from 4 to 6 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro. It is envisaged as a Conference at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government or other representatives. The objective of the Conference is to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges