Rome, 10 April 2014 CONTRIBUTION TO THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON
THE EU APPROACH AGAINST WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING
We are 8 political science students with a strong interest in the theme of this public consultation. We take part in this exercise in a personal capacity. Our names are at the bottom of this contribution. 1. Is the policy and legislative framework currently in place in the EU against wildlife
trafficking adequate? Currently the legislative framework of the European Union is not adequate to address the wildlife trade. However, the member of the EU Parliament Zanoni presented an interesting resolution meant to fight against poaching with any possible tool. This resolution, approved by the EU Parliament on January 2014, requests more inflexible measures against online traffic of ivory, hunting trophies, traffic of animals at risk of extinction and all those violations linked to the organized crime against wildlife species. The instruments to fight the wildlife trade are more severe penal sanctions linked to more effective systems of control, the creation of a EU system for training of the judiciary. 2. Should the EU enhance its approach to wildlife trafficking by developing a new EU Action Plan, as called for by the European Parliament? The European Union should be undoubtedly more involved in the fight against wildlife trafficking. An eligible solution could be the MEP Zanoniâ€™s resolution, approved by EP on January 2014, which provides several tools to improve the effort in combating trans- european illicit trade. Suitable means could be the creation of a common system of training for the judiciary, the institution of a criminal authority for wildlife species and of a unified network of control. Furthermore the requisition of illegal batch and the enforcement of criminal sanctions are primarily requested. The effectiveness of these measures could be implemented through close cooperation with the USA and the UA. 3. How could the EU increase political commitment at all levels against wildlife trafficking? What diplomatic tools would be best suited to ensure coherence between different international initiatives? It is necessary to distinguish between two levels of action for the European Union, domestic and international. With concern to the domestic level, the EU should undertake a sharper campaign implementing regulations and directives to address the behaviors of regions and citizens. At the
international level, considering its relevant economic power and its key role, the EU should try to convince its commercial partners of the significance of fighting against poaching, e.g. through privileged commercial agreements with those countries which declare their commitment. There is no need to send any financial aid, but it could be realized just through specific clauses in order to make clear European will not to receive and use materials coming from wildlife trafficking. In addition, the EU should promote the institution of an International Monitoring Committee, which not only should it favor information exchange but it should coordinate any possible international initiative, connecting organizations with similar purposes and supporting any other subject (Ngo’s State supranational organization). Committee should be composed by technicians, scientists, lawyers and economists, in order to have an efficient and complete task force. Members of committee should meet regularly (every year) and produce a comprehensive document focusing on the current situation and defining goals and tools for the future. In conclusion, the EU could bestow a European Certification on those States which adjust to common guidelines against wildlife trafficking, in this way other states will be encouraged to fulfill them. 4. What tools at international level should the EU focus on to enhance enforcement against
wildlife trafficking and strengthen governance? This aspect is captured by the answer to question 3. 5. What tools are most suitable for EU action to address international and EU demand for illegal wildlife products? What role could civil society and the private sector play in this regard? First of all, it is necessary to distinguish between two types of products which come from this illegal trade: there are several products which can be defined as luxury goods (ivory, fur, shark and whale’s meal), and other products connected to popular traditions (for example powdered rhino’s horn and tiger’s teeth in the Chinese traditional medicine). Concerning the first type, the EU should undertake two courses of action. First of all it is crucial to strengthen controls all over European territory and increase sanctions for users of illegal products, in order to guarantee certainty of sentence and to lower demand. Second, the EU should promote advertising campaigns of animal rights and environmentalist organizations, sensitizing public opinion and discourage consumption. In addition, the EU could launch an own advertising campaign, resorting to shocking representations similar to the campaigns against smoke. Regarding the second type of goods, it is necessary to undertake policies with long term effects, which could modify dangerous popular traditions, widespread in the poorest populations especially
in the Far East. In order to achieve this aim, it could be useful to invest in literacy’s plan, promoting modern medicine and supporting alternative remedies such as homeopathic ones. Furthermore, also Civil society and private sector could play an essential role. The EU should try to include the private sector by supporting its role against wildlife trafficking. It is necessary to subsidize those entrepreneur and those retailers who decide to renounce illicit traffic replacing illegal goods with sustainable ones. This policy is not a loss for the entrepreneurs but an opportunity to increase profits, changing the target of their business and addressing to those consumers who are sensitive about these themes. The WWF fight against consumptions of shark’s fins in Hong Kong represents a clear precedent. WWF was able to persuade a group of local entrepreneurs to remove shark’s pins from their menu, proving people are reluctant to eat food coming from endangered species. As result, most of the entrepreneurs in Hong Kong have followed the example of WWF and the consumption of shark’s fins has considerably decreased. (WWF TRAFFIC Wildlife best practices). Finally, in order to stimulate private efforts, the EU could create a trademark for those products which do not come from illegal traffic. This trademark should give products a higher usefulness, attracting consumers and encouraging entrepreneurs to produce and commercialize them.
6. How can the EU best add value to address the peace and security implications of wildlife
trafficking? First of all, the real implications that wildlife trafficking has on security and peace should be investigated, in order to choose the most suitable related policies. Three main problems need pointing out: i.
Violation of sanitary regulation.
Health has been compromised more than once by improper trading conditions. In 2007, when bird flu broke out, the EU decided to forbid wild birds import. Similarly, salmonella virus spreads because of people being in contact with “domestic” reptiles, such as frogs, iguanas, snakes or the environment these species live in. According to statistics, toxoplasmosis is the most common zoonotic disease that has been diagnosed to wild animals in 2011 (683 cases) ii.
Animals’ safety and wellness
Transport and holding conditions have been often denounced as unsuitable for animals whose health might be seriously compromised. This is the reason for such a high mortality rate and a very low survival rate in captivity, which represent one of the most important causes of extinction. Moreover, many more hosting structures should be available, equipped with everything animals might need
once arrived. There is also a good chance that they will be exploited for circus and fairs where they are regarded as an attraction. Increase in other kinds of trafficking
Wildlife species trafficking helps other types of illegal trade to develop. This is the reason why Interpol, WCO ( World Customs Organization) and OLAF (Office européen de Lutte Anti-Fraude) have often cooperated in missions dealing with the topic. Given the cross-field impact that the phenomenon has on security and peace in the European context, many strategies are to be suggested: A. Wildlife animal and vegetal species trafficking is one of the main reason for the loss of
biodiversity throughout the world. Strengthening campaigns to raise public awareness could be useful: also, museums and zoos should be open full time one day per year in order to let people know more about it. In 2007 (December 10th) International Day for animal rights was launched: if well sponsored, it could contribute to the feeling of being European even in this field. B. Preventing from abuses is not enough, so it will be crucial to provide financial support for
hosting centres: this way, old and dismantled buildings could be restored, thanks to a wide cooperation network among member states. C. Law can play a very important role by improving protocols and information forums and
promoting conventions, such as C.I.T.E.S. (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora in commerce, 1973 March 3rd), which was approved by EU with EC Regulation N° 97/338. D. Cooperation does not mean financial support only, but also monitoring national scenarios.
Member states could be obliged to deliver a periodical report about national trafficking management, highlighting what are the main critical aspects that call for European joint actions. E. The more information can be managed, the higher security levels can be achieved: how
about a European “green network” where corps of forest rangers can communicate in order to plan a coordinated strategy? Refresher and training courses could be organized to point out priorities that the main NGOs involved in wildlife trafficking prevention try to pursue. F.
Strengthening of sanctions and subsides to people who report illicit traffic are crucial tools to implement, considering that most of these illegal trades are managed by criminal organizations which threaten peace in the same way as drug’s racket and slave traffic.
7. How could the EU cooperation instruments better support the reinforcement of the
capacities of developing countries for wildlife conservation and action against wildlife trafficking? 8. What measures could be taken to improve data on wildlife crime in the EU so as to ensure that policy- making can be more effectively targeted? In order to adopt focused policies and to face adequately the trade of protected wildlife it would be opportune to support existing databases, such as CEN (Customs Enforcement Network) and the EU TWIX (European Union Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange) creating more technologically advanced data collection systems, in which collected data are not exclusively quantitative, functional for defining the extent of the phenomenon (location, species, quantity, departure, destination, conveyance, concealment), but they are also analyzable on a quality level, for example through an analysis of the context which shows the features of locations in which demand and supply are concentrated, peculiarities of “producers” and “consumers”. It is important to understand who are the people involved in this kind of traffic in order to intervene directly at an European level (with individual sanctions) and indirectly at an international level, creating perspectives of earning different from illegal traffic. Offering opportunities of choice which make criminal and deviant behaviors inconvenient, facing organized criminal activities will be possible. Therefore, it would be appropriate to increase the typologies of information collected and to implement the data sharing among the authorities involved in monitoring, control and intervention for the implementation of laws (police, Customs, environmental inspection services and CITES Management Authorities et al. ). A preliminary concept for the data sharing is the introduction of common definitions of the variables to measure, that is common standards of surveys. Effectively, nowadays there is not only one definition of criminal offence, so something that could be considered a crime within a country could be completely legal within another country. Concretely, by an organizational point of view, at a domestic level, the EU member states could effect a first phase of data collection, following the guidelines decided by the European network of databases about illegal trade of protected wildlife. At a later stage, the domestic data could be crossed by an European entity or an authority “ad hoc” in order to elaborate and interpret them. 9. What measures could be taken to strengthen enforcement against wildlife trafficking by environmental authorities, police, customs and prosecution services in the Member States and to reinforce cooperation between those authorities? How could awareness of the judiciary be raised?
Although States sovereignty still constitutes an obstacle to the process of law enforcement, which is subjected to state absolute will, there is at least one main thing that could be realized in Europe, namely bringing forth a Consortium, just alike the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime. EU member states, which are part already of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species and part of the UN Conventions Against Transnational Organized Crime and Against Corruption, could sign a new treaty aiming at merging both the phase of data collection and dissemination and the phase of enforcement through shared databases among national customs authorities and police (possibly coordinated by Europol and Eurojust) and through common law enforcement activities which could be directed by the European forum of Judges for environment and by the European Network of prosecutors for the environment. The agreement should include the judicial tools and rules set by previous covenants. In addition, those states, which become members of the Consortium, will be requested to institute domestic executive bodies responsible for wildlife trade and environment protection. In conclusion the extension of the consortium working range should be enabled through Voluntary partnership agreements (such as those ones provided for the FLEGT Action Plan) to be signed by any third state as a bilateral pact, especially non- European states whose judicial systems differ considerably from ours. This solution is not unfeasible and unrealistic considering that the above mentioned conventions have been almost universally signed. With concern to the raising of awareness of the judiciary, it might be thought to launch academic courses of study as part of the European programme Erasmus mundus in close cooperation with third states along with training and refresher course for public officers. 10. How could existing tools against organised crime at EU and Member States level be better used to address wildlife trafficking? What additional measures should be envisaged, e.g. regarding sanctions? What contribution could Europol and Eurojust make in that regard? The only way to better use existing tools against organized crime is acting cooperatively for the implementation of a common process of law enforcement, which obviously will include a clear definition of those acts to be considered as crimes, and a minimum level of sanctions associated to them, according to the principle of proportionality. It is remarkable that there isnâ€™t a specific treaty dealing in toto with the many aspects and facets of wildlife and forest offences, such as illegal logging, poaching, trafficking in fauna and flora, the possession and consumption of illegally traded plant and animal material, and associated offences such as money-laundering yet. The absence of such a treaty impedes the prosecution of many acts since they may not be considered to be criminal offences. This is the reason why the call for a new comprehensive agreement should be endorsed. Authors: