By Kevin Heath
A new report by the National Legislation Project of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife and Flora (CITES) highlights 17 countries that need to undertake immediate action to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife. The 17 noted countries are among 88 countries and 13 dependant territories that CITES and the UN feel need to boost their activities to save endangered species.
The 17 countries of most concern to CITES are:
- Plurinational State of Bolivia,
- United Republic of Tanzania and
- Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
In order to help those 17 nations CITES and the UN have announced that more resources will be provided to the countries to help them meet their responsibilities.
On request the help provided will be to support and enhance systems to meet:
- compilation of examples of best legislation,
- drafting support and close cooperation with UNODC and UNDP on the implementation of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime,
- the strengthening of the rule of law and
- the fight against corruption.
A new online resource has also been created by CITES which contains draft model laws and regulations that can be used by parties to bring themselves into compliance with the requirements of CITES membership.
“Ensuring the 35,000 species of plants and animals listed under CITES are not illegally traded or exploited unsustainably requires effective national legal frameworks in each of the 181 Parties to the Convention. This joint initiative between CITES and UNEP will offer targeted technical support to countries to meet CITES legislative requirements, which is critical to fight the illegal trade in wildlife” said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General.
“At the first United Nations Environment Assembly in 2014, the Executive Director was requested to continue to support national Governments, upon their request, to develop and implement the environmental rule of law. This joint initiative between CITES and UNEP will help build national legislation, and in that context to support the fight against the illegal wildlife trade” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNEP.
The report measured CITES members against a number of set criteria and found that the majority of member states were failing in some respect. Only 48.3% of state were considered to have implemented the CITES requirements fully.
The 4 domestic measures against which countries were measured were:
- Designate at least one Management Authority and one Scientific Authority;
- Prohibit trade in specimens in violation of the Convention;
- Penalize such trade; and
- Confiscate specimens illegally traded or possessed.
- Category 1: legislation that is believed generally to meet the requirements for implementation of CITES;
- Category 2: legislation that is believed generally not to meet all requirements for the implementation of CITES; and
- Category 3: legislation that is believed generally not to meet the requirements for the implementation of CITES.
The report found that 87 countries (48.3%) of member states were in category 1. 49 member states (27.2%) were in category 2. 39 member states (21.7%) were in category 3 with 5 states pending.
The report also highlights the responsibilities of member nations to meet the requirements of membership. It also provides a reminder that all member states currently in categories 2 and 3 have until January 2016 to meet it’s membership requirements if it has been a member of CITES for 5 years or more before March 2013.