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CITES welcomes G20 declaration on combating corruption related to illegal wildlife trade

In the G20 Leaders Declaration, “Shaping an interconnected world”, released on Saturday, July 8, 2017 after meeting in Hamburg, Germany, G20 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to address illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, particularly through combating corruption.

John Scanlon
CITES Secretary-General, John Scanlon

The leaders stated: “We will intensify our fight against corruption related to illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. Wildlife trafficking is a threat to the planet’s biodiversity, economic development, and, among others, health and security, and is facilitated by high levels of corruption, which the G20 cannot tolerate.”

The High Level Principles on Combating Corruption Related to Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife Products, adopted as an annex of the G20 Leaders’ Declaration, sets out concrete steps to combat this corruption, including through strengthening legislation, law enforcement and capacity building frameworks, establishing preventive measures such as demand reduction and risk mitigation, and implementing concrete actions on investigation, prosecution and sanctioning.

These High Level Principles make specific reference to the historic CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) CoP17 resolution on combating corruption, making the CITES permit system more resilient against corruption, including through the CITES electronic permitting system and enhanced traceability, as well as to the critical role of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) in combating corruption, in which CITES is a partner,  together with INTERPOL, UNODC, the World Bank and the World Customs Organisation.

“CITES is known for its pragmatic and well-targeted approach to regulating legal and sustainable trade in wildlife and in combating illegal wildlife trade. Historic resolutions addressing corruption, law enforcement and demand reduction were adopted at CITES CoP17 last year in Johannesburg, as was recognised by the G20 Leaders’ Declaration,” said CITES Secretary-General, John Scanlon. “We are extremely pleased and encouraged by the strong political commitment and specific steps mapped out by the G20 leaders to tackle the corruption that fuels illegal wildlife trade.”

The Declaration also reaffirms the fundamental legal framework that CITES provides for the regulation of international trade in more than 36,000 listed species of wild animals and plants. It also recognises the threats posed to a number of high-value CITES-listed species that are targeted by organised crime groups.

“The recent record breaking seizures of elephant ivory in Asia, with nearly 10 tonnes of ivory confiscated last week alone by Customs and police officers, reminds us that while good progress has been made in the flight against illegal trade in wildlife, we must continue to further strengthen our collective efforts. With high level commitments and concerted national efforts, including major decisions in source and destination countries, we are clearly on the right track to address illegal trade in wildlife and if we persist we will win this fight,” added Scanlon.

With 183 Parties (182 countries + the European Union), CITES is regarded as one of the world’s most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of trade. It was signed in Washington D.C. on March 3, 1973 and entered into force on July 1, 1975.

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