By Jessica Graham
Wildlife trafficking is a crime that spans the globe, giving criminals billions of dollars in illegal proceeds, driving endangered species closer toward extinction, and fueling corruption. Now the international community has new tools to fight this crime.
The UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ, or UN Crime Commission) in Vienna overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on April 26, jointly introduced by the United States and Peru, to classify wildlife trafficking as a "serious crime" as defined by the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. The resolution is a recognition on the part of Member States that law enforcement is an essential component in combating wildlife trafficking. The resolution helps unlock international law enforcement cooperation, provided under the Convention, including mutual legal assistance, asset seizure and forfeiture, extradition, and other tools to hold criminals accountable for wildlife crimes. The U.S.-Peru resolution builds on U.S. efforts with the UN General Assembly, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), East Asia Summit, and the G-8 Roma-Lyon Group over the last year to build support in the fight against wildlife poaching and trafficking.
Dozens of park rangers are killed each year across Africa, standing on the front lines to protect their national parks and the wildlife that roam freely throughout central Africa. Just last month, armed poachers crossed national borders into Chad to massacre nearly 100 elephants for their ivory. Over 250 elephants were similarly slaughtered last year in Cameroon. These horrific crimes underscore the need for innovative, international action to both protect wildlife and to prevent, prosecute, and punish criminals that seek to profit from illegal trafficking and poaching. More....