The United Nations Security Council took a critical step today in tackling elephant poaching and illicit ivory trade by addressing the link between instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo and wildlife trafficking.
In renewing the DRC sanctions regime, the resolution targets individuals and entities illegally supporting armed groups through the illicit trade of natural resources, including wildlife and wildlife products, such as elephant ivory.
Over 20,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory tusks, with much of the killing occurring in conflict zones in Central Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
“Individuals involved in poaching and trafficking of wildlife are now singled out for sanctions where the proceeds of their activities have been used to finance conflict,” said Wendy Elliott, species programme manager at WWF.
“This is a huge step forward for reducing human suffering, improving peace and security and strengthening wildlife conservation.”
On Tuesday, the council further underscored the link between wildlife crime and conflict through the adoption of a separate sanctions regime for the Central African Republic. That resolution also targets individuals involved in the illicit exploitation of wildlife and wildlife products.
“The DRC and CAR resolutions are critical. They illustrate the high priority that the Security Council places on ending the human pain and regional instability that accompany these environmental crimes,” said Elliott.
With mounting evidence that the proceeds of wildlife poaching and trafficking are being used to finance armed groups, the resolutions on DRC and CAR designate wildlife trade as a factor to be considered when targeting future sanctions.
The resolutions come in advance of other global efforts to end illicit wildlife trafficking, including a high-level meeting to be hosted by the British government in February.