Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed a strong commitment to addressing wildlife crime as a serious transnational organised crime, and to further scale up efforts to combat it.
They made the commitment on March 21 and 22, 2019 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, at a Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Illegal Wildlife Trade, hosted by Thailand as the 2019 Chair of ASEAN.
The meeting provided an opportunity for ASEAN member States to take stock on progress made in their implementation of regional and national strategies to combat wildlife crime. ASEAN member States also discussed their collaborative efforts, and the potential to further strengthen and harmonise their strategic actions. This includes pursuing the targets under Goal 15 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that specifically addresses tackling illegal trafficking in wildlife, through the implementation of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together.
Ivonne Higuero, Secretary General of CITES, at the meeting said: “We commend Thailand for its strong leadership as the 2019 Chair of ASEAN, and the member States of ASEAN for their strong commitment to tackle wildlife crime through collaborative actions. This is exactly what is needed, strong regional cooperation and sound national and regional strategies. Equally important is strong collaboration across source, transit and destination countries, to ensure that criminal activities along the entire enforcement chain are addressed and neutralised, from source to final destination.”
“The Conference of the Parties to CITES adopted powerful Decisions and Resolutions to address wildlife crime, and will convene its 18th meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in May, where progress will be reviewed, and further measures needed discussed and agreed. I urge you to make every effort to ensure that the Decisions and Resolutions that will be adopted by the Conference of the Parties to CITES are, as appropriate, embedded in the ASEAN strategies to combat wildlife crime,” she added.
Representatives from countries outside the ASEAN region, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations present at the meeting, expressed strong support for the work of ASEAN member States in addressing wildlife crime, and highlighted the support they are able to provide.
The tools, services and technical support available through the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), working to strengthen criminal justice systems and provide coordinated support at national, regional and international level to combat wildlife and forest crime, was also presented to the meeting.