Wildlife trafficking to become a ‘serious crime’ under UNTOC

Wildlife trafficking to become a ‘serious crime’ under UNTOC

Trafficking in wildlife is to be treated as a ‘serious crime’ under the terms of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (‘UNTOC’), under a declaration issued at the close of the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade on 14 February.

The Conference, hosted by the UK government and which enjoyed the participation of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, focused on elephants, rhinos and tigers, and aimed to tackle three interlinked aspects of illegal wildlife trade:


  • strengthening law enforcement and the criminal justice system
  • reducing demand for illegal wildlife products
  • supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by illegal wildlife trade


Under the declaration, a document outlining a strategy for a reduction in poaching and trafficking, signatory nations promised to:

‘Address the problem of the illegal wildlife trade by adopting or amending legislation, as necessary, to criminalise poaching and wildlife trafficking, and related crimes including by ensuring such criminal offences are serious crimes within the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as called for in Resolution 2013/40 of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and by making maximum use of the UNTOC to facilitate international cooperation in appropriate cases.’

Signatories also pledged to ‘address the serious problem of corruption and money‐laundering facilitating wildlife trafficking and related offences by adopting or amending legislation, as necessary, criminalising corruption and bribery facilitating poaching, wildlife trafficking, and related offences, and to institute measures to establish and promote effective practices aimed at the prevention of corruption and detection of money‐laundering, particularly in cases involving wildlife trafficking,’ and urged all governments to become parties to, and implement, the UN Convention against Corruption, which, it said, can be ‘a valuable tool to prevent corruption and foster international cooperation in corruption cases, including extradition, mutual legal assistance and asset recovery.’

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