On July 30, 2015, The United Nations General Assembly passed a sweeping resolution that targets the global problem of wildlife trafficking, calling on all 193 UN member states (governments of the world) to take on a series of actions to “prevent, combat, and eradicate the illegal trade in wildlife.”
Adopted by consensus, the resolution recognizes the intrinsic value of biological diversity to human well-being, while expressing concern over widespread poaching and trafficking – particularly of elephants and rhinos.
The resolution says the increasingly sophisticated networks of organized crime involved with trafficking threaten human health and safety, security, good governance, and sustainable development.
The resolution contains a multitude of specific actions including:
- Calling on member states to take decisive steps to prevent the illegal trade in wildlife by strengthening legislation, and enforcement under national and international laws;
- Calling on member states to make trafficking in protected species involving organized criminal groups a serious crime under national laws and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized crime;
- Urging all member states to ratify the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the UN Convention against Corruption;
- Urging member states to develop sustainable and alternative livelihoods for communities affected by wildlife trafficking; and enhancing the rights of affected communities to manage and benefit from wildlife and wilderness.
The Governments of Gabon and Germany initially proposed the resolution, and then led efforts among member states to garner support, and draw up the language. They also held side events during the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 and 2014 to garner attention and support for the issue.
Said WCS Vice President for International Policy Susan Lieberman: “We commend the Governments of Gabon and Germany especially in their leadership in bringing this important resolution to fruition. The United Nations resolution ‘Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife’ sets a powerful framework for governments to collectively tackle this global issue, and treat it as the transnational organized crime that is has become. We commend the member states of the UN for recognizing that the wide-ranging impacts of wildlife trafficking go far beyond just wildlife; they negatively impact human livelihoods, health, and local and national security. WCS looks forward to working closely with the United Nations General Assembly, relevant treaties, and governments around the world to support implementation of this resolution, and to help end the scourge of wildlife trafficking.”
The resolution concludes with a call to revisit the issue of wildlife trafficking and implementation of the resolution on an annual basis, beginning with the upcoming 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September.
WCS is actively involved in combating illegal wildlife trade on the ground through anti-poaching and anti-trafficking efforts, and through partnerships on local, regional, and international levels. WCS also works to save the world’s elephants through conservation programs in Africa and Asia and the 96 Elephants campaign, a WCS-led effort to end the ivory trafficking crisis by stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand.