African Union leaders agree to enhance cooperation and fight against illegal exploitation and illicit trade of wild flora and fauna

Since 2000, criminal exploitation of fauna and flora has reached unprecedented levels. In 2014, UNODC estimated that more than 20 000 elephants were killed every year in Africa and that they might even disappear in 20 years. Poaching has led to the near extinction of rhinoceros in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Central African Republic.

Wildlife and forest crime does not only constitute a threat to the environment, but also to peace and security of the States and their populations. It fuels corruption in airports, ports, customs offices and security services and provides new revenues to insurgent groups and criminal networks in the whole African continent.

The International Conference on Illegal Exploitation and Illicit Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa was hosted by the Republic of Congo and took place in Brazzaville from 27 to 30 April 2015. The African Union Commission and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) actively participated to the organization of this international meeting, which constitutes a major step in the fight against Wildlife and Forest Crime (WLFC).

It was chaired by His Excellency Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, who was accompanied by His Excellency Idriss Déby, President of the Republic of Chad, His Excellency Daniel Ona Ondo, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture and the UNEP Deputy Executive Director, Ibrahim Thiaw. Were also present a number of African Ministers of Environment and Forest, other representatives of African Member States and partners of the international community such as the European Union, the CITES Secretariat, UNODC, the World Health Organization and NGOs, including TRAFFIC and WWF.

      
H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo and H.E. Idriss Déby President of the Republic of Chad at the ivory seizures burning ceremony

Recalling the main precedent declarations and resolutions on the subject, African Governments adopted on 30 April a common strategy, together with an action plan and a road map to assist Africa in its response to illegal exploitation and trade in wild fauna and flora.

The Declaration also requests the African Union Assembly to urge all African countries to comply with their international obligations, review and amend national legislation in order to criminalize poaching and wildlife trafficking, coordinate their effort in the enforcement of laws and ensure those offenses are considered as serious crimes within the framework of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Finally, it has been recommended to present this new Strategy to the United Nations General Assembly with the aim of being included in the UN's Global Strategy on WLFC.

This key gathering reflects African countries' preoccupation on the scourge of WLFC and strong will to stop the predation towards protected species and flora on the continent against illegal exploitation and illicit trade and adapt their answer through an in-depth coordinated strategy. Being the custodian of the United Nations conventions on transnational organized crime and corruption, UNODC was clearly identified as a fundamental partner to assist Member States affected by this crime to enhance their law enforcement capacity and criminal justice systems. This, in order to improve the prevention, prosecution and repression of the illegal exploitation and illicit trade in wild flora and fauna in Africa, within the framework of the Global Programme (2014-2018) and in collaboration with partners in the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICC WC).

Further Information at:

UNODC and Wildlife and Forest Crime

UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime