CITES Secretariat welcomes London Declaration on the Illegal Wildlife Trade

Geneva, 14 February 2014 – The London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, hosted by the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) and the British Royal Family on 12 and 13 February brought high-level representatives from 46 countries and 11 international organizations together in London to inject further high-level political commitment into efforts to tackle wildlife crime.

Sitting next to HRH Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry, UK Foreign Secretary, Mr William Hague declared at the opening of the Conference: “It is no exaggeration to say that we are facing an unprecedented crisis: tens of thousands of elephants were killed last year; over a thousand rhinos lost their lives to poaching and trafficking; and tigers and many other species are under ever greater threat. But this is not just an environmental crisis. This is now a global criminal industry, ranked alongside drugs, arms and people trafficking.”

Mr Hague said: “We will recognise that CITES is a fantastic weapon in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. It is the only body that draws the whole of the international community together on this issue. Its strength is that it is universal.”

Prince Charles told delegates: „Today you are breaking new ground by coming together and committing – at high levels never before seen at a conference on this topic – to take urgent action to put a stop to this illicit trade, which has become a grave threat not only to the wildlife and the people who protect them, but also to the security of nations”.

Political leaders, including the Presidents of Botswana, Chad, Gabon and the Republic of Tanzania, recognised the significant scale and detrimental economic, social and environmental consequences of the illegal trade in wildlife.

The 46 countries represented at the Conference adopted the London Declaration by acclamation, calling for further measures to eradicate markets for illegal wildlife products, ensure effective legal deterrents, strengthen law enforcement, and support sustainable livelihoods. They committed more resources to implement these measures, and to assess progress made in delivering on these political commitments over the next twelve months and beyond.

The CITES Secretary-General, Mr John E. Scanlon, when addressing the Conference, stressed that human traits such as greed, ignorance and indifference were driving illegal wildlife trade. He highlighted the collaborative approach taken by CITES , focussing on how Parties could collaborate across source, transit and destination States to solve the problems rather than seeking to attribute blame. „The benefits of working together in a constructive and pragmatic manner were evident earlier this week with the release of the results of Operation Cobra II, a highly successful collaborative operation between 28 States in Asia, Africa and North America“ said Scanlon.

„We know what must be done – as has been captured in decisions taken under CITES and through various other fora. We welcome the London Declaration and the level of political commitment that is evident here in London. The added momentum generated from this meeting, coupled with the spirit of taking a collaborative approach to combatting the illegal wildlife trade, gives us hope that we can reverse the current disturbing trends. “ added Scanlon.

Botswana announced that it will host a high-level follow-up meeting in 2015 to discuss progress in tackling the illegal wildlife trade.

Background information on wildlife trafficking

Poaching levels have increased in all African subregions, with central Africa continuing to display the highest levels of illegal killing of elephants in any subregion in Africa or Asia. Wildlife rangers who are serving in the front line are often quite literally being outgunned. Wildlife crime has become a serious threat to the security, political stability, economy, natural resources and cultural heritage of many countries. The extent of the response required to address this threat effectively is often beyond the sole remit of environmental or wildlife law enforcement agencies, or even of one country or region alone.

Further information on the Conference:
• London Conference on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife, 12 to 13 February 2014
• Photos from the London Conference
Read more about wildlife crime:
• APEC on wildlife crime
• The EU Approach to Combat Wildlife Trafficking
• FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking & Commercial Ban on Trade in Elephant Ivory
• Fact sheet: US efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking
• G8 Summit 2013 outcomes on wildlife crime
• Secretary Clinton’s ‚Call for Action‘ on illicit wildlife trade
• UK Royal Family efforts to combat wildlife crime
The International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC)
• The Fact Sheet on „U.S. Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking“ (above) notes that the US will work with the International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC)
• ICCWC hosted the first meeting of regional wildlife enforcement networks at the CITES CoP
• ICCWC also hosted a Ministerial session on transboundary wildlife crime at the CITES CoP
United Nations on Wildlife Crime
• UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice resolution on wildlife crime
• UN Security Council and the LRA and illicit ivory trade
• High-level Panel Discussion: „Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking – A multidimensional crime and a growing challenge to the international community“ (UN General Assembly side event)

CITES Secretariat on Wildlife Crime
• CITES Conference of the Parties on wildlife crime
• US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing (Written testimony of CITES Secretary General John E. Scanlon)
• CITES Secretariat welcomes President Obama’s Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking
• CITES at 40 Marks a Major Decision Point for Sharks, Trees, Snakes, Turtles and other Wildlife Species
• CITES Secretary-General calls for urgent action to protect elephants in the Dzanga-Sanga National Park from armed groups
• CITES Secretary-General expresses grave concern over reports of mass elephant killings in Cameroon
• Rio+20 on CITES and wildlife crime


With 179 Member States, CITES remains one of the world’s most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the regulation of trade in wild fauna and flora. Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives for food, housing, health care, ecotourism, cosmetics or fashion.

CITES regulates international trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

CITES was signed in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973.

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