International efforts to combat wildlife crime
North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation
In conjunction with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada, Mexico, and the United States also signed the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation and created the Commission for Environmental Cooperation in 1993. This international organization was established to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and promote the effective enforcement of environmental law, including those protecting wildlife. Through its North American Working Group on Environmental Enforcement and Compliance Cooperation, this organization provides senior wildlife enforcement officials from NAFTA countries a forum for regional cooperation, expertise exchange, and enforcement capacity building. One component of this working group is the North American Wildlife Enforcement Group (NAWEG), created in 1995.
As parts of its efforts to address environmental crimes, Interpol established a Working Group on Wildlife Crime in 1994. The wildlife working group’s primary goals are to coordinate information sharing related to wildlife crime on an international scale and to facilitate and coordinate operational enforcement activity. To achieve this, Interpol maintains an international network for the exchange of information, enhances domestic operations in member countries through cooperation and coordination activities, and assists in training wildlife enforcement officers in developing countries. In 1996, a full-time officer was appointed to manage Interpol’s wildlife crime programs.
World Customs Organization
With its specialty in international trade and customs administration and 171-country membership, including the United States, the World Customs Organization works with other international organizations and member countries on wildlife trafficking and other issues. Since July 1996, the World Customs Organization and the CITES Secretariat have maintained a legal framework for international cooperation to exchange information related to wildlife crime and promote awareness and training for customs and management authorities at the national level.
Group of Eight
During the March 2007 Group of Eight (G-8) meeting of environmental ministers in Postdam, Germany, the attendees committed to the “Postdam Initiative—Biological Diversity 2010.” Countries represented at the meeting included the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom. This agreement aims to strengthen international efforts to combat the illegal trade in wildlife, among other concerns, by 2010.
UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
Acknowledging that the trafficking of forest products, including wildlife, is often linked to organized crime and can involve the same actors who traffic drugs, arms, and persons, the United States, in conjunction with Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand, sponsored a resolution that urges countries to fight forest and wildlife crime by strengthening law enforcement cooperation, combating criminal groups operating within their borders, and cooperating through the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the U.N. Convention Against Corruption. The resolution, first presented for adoption in 2006, was adopted on April 25 at the 2007 commission meeting in Vienna.
Lusaka Agreement and Task Force
The Lusaka Agreement on Co-operative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora is a formal intergovernmental organization, which entered into force in 1996, under the auspices of the U.N. Environment Programme. The group aims to improve wildlife crime law enforcement cooperation and capacity-building. As part of the Lusaka Agreement, the member states launched the Lusaka Task Force as a permanent law enforcement institution to facilitate international cooperation in carrying out wildlife crime investigations in Africa. The Task Force, which includes as parties to the agreement the governments of the Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia, is sometimes referred to as the “African Interpol for Wildlife.”
Enforcement Action Plan to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade
Unveiled in 2007, the E.U. Enforcement Action Plan to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade seeks to improve wildlife trade enforcement across the E.U. as well as in wildlife source countries. In the source countries, the E.U. aims to provide law enforcement capacity building as well as increase awareness of illegal wildlife trade.
South Asia Wildlife Trade Initiative
Established in February 2008 under the South Asia Cooperative Environmental Programme, the South Asia Wildlife Trade Initiative includes country representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. During the initiative’s first regional workshop from January 31 to February 1, 2008, senior wildlife officials from these countries agreed to increased cooperation in regulating their wildlife trade. The country representatives established two efforts to realize this goal: the South Asia Experts Group on Wildlife Trade and the South Asia Regional Strategic Plan on Wildlife for 2008 through 2013.
- U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, “International Cooperation in Preventing and Combating Illicit International Trafficking in Forest Products, Including Timber, Wildlife and Other Forest Biological Resources,” Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and United States of America: revised draft resolution, April 25, 2007.
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking
- ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network
Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the Congressional Research Service. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the Congressional Research Service should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.
Note: The first version of this article was drawn from RL34395 International Illegal Trade in Wildlife: Threats and U.S. Policy by Liana Sun Wyler and Pervaze A. Sheikh, Congressional Research Service on February 2, 2009.