21 September 2015

Enforcement measures to combat illegal wildlife trade: A study of different systems

The CITES Master 2014-2015 in Baeza is over and our final Master Thesis long finished and marked.

It is my belief that knowledge should be shared as much as possible, and therefore the following posts will contain extracts from my own thesis entitled:

Enforcement measures to combat illegal wildlife trade: A study of different systems

Here is an abstract to start with:

In the past years illegal wildlife trade has become a serious and growing problem at national and international level. Although it is almost impossible to calculate accurately the revenues obtained in the black market, they are estimated between USD 70 to 213 billion and it is considered as one of the most profitable forms of organized crime, only after illegal drugs and arms trade.

As any other global crime, it implies a growing danger for the development, global stability and security of any nation. It undermines sustainable development and makes countries vulnerable to corruption and increased criminal activity. At the same time, the cost of losing species and the destruction of habitats is incalculable.

Within the global market, the European Union (EU) is a key player, and it is considered, according to EUROPOL, as ‘one of the most important markets for the trafficking in endangered species’.

Because of the European Single Market and the absence of systematic border controls within the EU, the provisions of CITES have been implemented uniformly in all EU Member States through a series of Regulations (the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations) directly applicable to all. However, law enforcement provisions and implementation pertain to the sovereignty of each Member State.

Having a strong and coherent enforcement mechanism in all 28 Member States is of great importance because the elimination of internal borders and the establishment of common barriers for external trade is likely to favour international illegal trade using the weakest external borders undermining control across the entire region.

To help understand better how these systems can be structured, the study looked at the practical organisation of CITES law enforcement in several selected EU Member States which represent different administrative structures, and political, economic and cultural backgrounds: Spain, Belgium and United Kingdom. Considering that each one of them has its characteristics, the research aims at assisting in spreading knowledge and best practices that could potentially be reproduced in other Member States. Equally, the information gathered by this research could help build the capacities of other Member States who lag behind the fight against illegal trade.

I hope the contents and findings are useful for the reader of this blog. It would have not been possible without the assistance and unconditional help of many professional working in the field, especially the ES, BE and UK Enforcement Authorities, to which I am very thankful.

Sharing yes, copying not: these posts, as all others have all rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission may be made without the author’s written permission by other that the International University of Andalucia (UNIA).

For those curious about the CITES Masters, a new edition 2016 has been opened. Do contact me if you have questions. I can never recommend it enough for those who are interested in wildlife trade!

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