G20 Information Centre
Annex to G20 Leaders Declaration
G20 High Level Principles on Combatting Corruption Related to Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Wildlife Products
July 8, 2017, Hamburg
[English PDF / Deutsch PDF]
In the Implementation Plan for the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2017-18, the G20 commits to focusing its attention on corruption related to the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
Worth an estimated 8 to 20 billion Euro annually, illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is, due to high demand, one of the largest and most profitable forms of organized cross-border crime with links to financing armed conflicts and possibly terrorism. It not only threatens the very survival of many protected and endangered species and the biodiversity of this planet, but has negative impacts on the economic development in many countries and represents a threat to health and safety, security, good governance and the sustainable development of states. The 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals thus call "to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products."
Illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is facilitated by high levels of corruption. Over recent years, this linkage has been increasingly recognized by the international community and corruption has been identified as a key enabling factor for illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products in range, transit and destination countries. It facilitates the establishment of an illegal market and the mixing of illegal with legal products, reduces opportunities for legitimate revenue generations and livelihoods, undermines enforcement efforts to curb poaching and trafficking, and hinders attempts to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators.
The extremely high value of some of the illegally traded wildlife and wildlife products makes their trade highly profitable and thus fuels and incentivizes corruption at all levels. Illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is therefore often still a low-risk, high reward sector.
In addition, illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products often involves organized criminal groups with large transnational networks, resources and access to information and institutions throughout the supply and demand chains. For these groups, illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products is one business opportunity amongst other forms of illicit trade.
A variety of potential entry points for corruption arises from the participation of many actors from different sectors, as well as from the possibility to misuse the complex cross-border and permit-based system under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including through bribing officials to illegally issue permits that make it appear as if the illegal wildlife product was sourced and traded legally.
Oversight in protected areas and at borders can be insufficient due to corrupt officials (e.g. bribery, misuse of power and office). Corruption can be used as a means to influence the effectiveness of investigation and prosecution of offenders. Furthermore, even where anti-corruption laws for illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products exist, they are not always applied effectively, due to, inter alia, governance gaps, weak enforcement capacities and often little incentives for integrity and transparency. Finally, cases of illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products are often investigated and prosecuted under the sourcing/trafficking aspect only, while neglecting the underlying corruption.
For several years, a number of international conferences on illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products as well as international treaty bodies have urged countries to "prohibit, prevent and counter any form of corruption that facilitates illicit trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products," and to "promote and implement policies of zero tolerance towards all illegal activities including corruption associated with the illegal trade in wildlife." Most recently, the CITES Parties adopted a resolution making reference to "all points of the trade chain, in source, transit and market countries" and calling on its members to ensure the implementation, enforcement and effectiveness of CITES by "adopt[ing] measures to […] detect and counter instances of corruption".
In light of the global, cross-border, and organized nature of corruption linked to illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products, international cooperation, coordinated policy responses, and strong leadership are needed. The G20, representing three quarters of international trade and two thirds of the world's population, is uniquely placed to take action and lead by example.
Building on its existing work regarding asset recovery, denial of safe haven, asset disclosure by public officials, beneficial ownership transparency, combatting solicitation, mutual legal assistance, foreign bribery, cooperation on persons sought for corruption and asset recovery, organizing against corruption, the liability of legal persons and whistleblower protection, these
Acknowledging the diversity of legal systems among G20 countries, the Principles are broadly framed and flexible so that countries can apply them within their domestic legal systems. They are intended as guidance to enhance and complement existing anti-corruption commitments and not weaken or replace them.
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 European Parliament, Study: EU trade policy and the wildlife trade, 2016: "The EU estimates that the global illegal wildlife trade is worth between EUR 8 billion and EUR 20 billion annually, but the range of estimates from different agencies value it between US$7-23 billion annually".
 For the purpose of these High Level Principles the terms "wildlife and wildlife products" have the same scope as in UNEA Resolution 1/3 of 27 June 2014 on "Illegal trade in wildlife"; reference to "illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products" includes domestic and cross-border trade, as well as all illegal activities linked to such trade, including the poaching of wildlife.
 UNODC, World Wildlife Crime Report: Trafficking in protected species, 2016.
 For the link of illegal wildlife trade to armed conflicts see for example the 2016 Report of the UN Secretary General "Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife" to the UN General Assembly (A/70/951) with reference to UN Security Council resolutions 2262 (2016) and 2198 (2015); Christy, B. (2015): How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa, National Geographic; the link of illegal wildlife trade to terrorism is for example suggested in the G7 Leaders Declaration of 2015 (Elmau) and in the EU Action Plan for strengthening the fight against terrorist financing (COM(2016) 50/2). For the possible link with terrorism, further see FATF on Central and West Africa www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/Terrorist-Financing-West-Central-Africa.pdf.
 See UN General Assembly Resolution A/69/L.80 Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife, 2015.
Sustainable Development Goal Target 15.7.
 OECD, Illicit Trade: Converging Criminal Networks, 2016. http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/governance/charting-illicit-trade_9789264251847-en#.WHZJ2k32aos#page77.
 INTERPOL, Environmental Crime and its Convergence with other Serious Crimes. Environmental Security, 2015.
 CITES provides the legal framework for the regulation of international trade in more than 35,000 listed species. CITES generally prohibits trade in species threatened with extinction and regulates trade in species that may become threatened if trade is not strictly regulated. A number of CITES-listed species are high-value items targeted by organized crime groups, which also make these permits a target for wildlife traffickers.
 E.g. through misclassification of species, origin or volume.
 E.g. through corruption-induced tip-offs ahead of searches, weak sentences and lenient bail terms as well as deliberate mistakes in evidence gathering and case management.
 Compare e.g. the Report of the UN Secretary General "Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife", 2016, UN Doc. A/70/951, para. 33: "Although several Member States indicated that existing corruption laws apply to all forms of corruption, including corruption linked to illicit trafficking in wildlife, many pointed out that corruption laws are not always applied to illicit trafficking of wildlife cases. Conscious of this shortcoming, some Member States highlighted the need to identify specific links between corruption and illicit trafficking in wildlife."
 E.g. London 2014, Kasane 2015, Hanoi 2016; see also Wilton Park OECD conference (2015): www.wiltonpark.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/WP1423-report.pdf.
 Such as the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES, a global convention with 183 State Parties, which adopted a resolution on corruption and illegal wildlife trade that urges Parties to adopt anti-corruption measures in this regard (https://cites.org/sites/default/files/document/E-Res-17-06.pdf).
 United Nations A/RES/69/314 (2015), op. 10; re-affirmed in the follow-up Resolution A/RES/70/301 (2016).
 UNEA Resolution 1/3, para. 2 (g). Plea reiterated in UNEA Resolution 2/14 of 27 May 2016 on "Illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products", para. 2 (b).
 CITES Resolution Conf. 17.6 on "Prohibiting, preventing, detecting and countering corruption, which facilitates activities conducted in violation of the Convention".
 Nine Key Principles on Asset Recovery (2011), G20 Common Principles for Action Denial of Save Haven (2012), G20 High Level Principles on Asset Disclosure by Public Officials (2012), G20 Guiding Principles to Combat Solicitation (2013), G20 High Level Principles on Mutual Legal Assistance (2013), G20 Guiding High Level Principles provide a reference to countries wishing to strengthen their efforts to combat corruption related to illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.
 e.g. the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN WEN), the North American Wildlife Enforcement Group (NAWEG), the European Union Enforcement Group, the European Environmental Crime Network (ENVICRIMENET), the South America Wildlife Enforcement Network.
 Such as the EUROPOL Information Exchange System (SIENA), World Customs Organizations's Environet or TWIX (Trade in Wildlife Information eXchange; e.g. EU TWIX, Africa-TWIX, or the proposed SADC TWIX).
 Such as the eCITES project implementation framework that provides a stepwise approach for management authorities to automate procedures and that creates transparency, streamlines procedures, creates accountability and allows use of modern management and control mechanisms, overall reducing opportunities for corruption.
 Cf. 2015 G20 High Level Principles on Private Sector Transparency and Integrity.
 For instance by means of specific training courses, including those of international agencies such as CEPOL, INTERPOL, EUROPOL or AMERIPOL, ITTO, UNODC, OECD, World Bank, WCO and other providers, as well as mentoring and on-the-job-training approaches.
 In the event that, under a country's legal system, criminal responsibility is not applicable to legal persons, such responsibility may be civil or administrative, cf. G20 High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons, Principle 1.
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Source: Official website of the German G20 presidency