African leaders agree on co-ordinated response and action against illegal exploitation and illicit trade of wild flora and fauna in Africa
Brazzaville, Congo, May 2015—African leaders meeting last week in Brazzaville issued a strong Declaration urging co-ordinated regional and international action against wildlife crime at the end of a four-day meeting on illegal exploitation and illicit trade in African wildlife products.
The 20 points Declaration urges African States to finalize the Draft ‘African Common Strategy on Combatting Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora’ and its action plan to deal with the crisis. The meeting made significant progress in the development of the African Common Strategy, which will be finalized and submitted for adoption to the African Union (AU) later this year. The conference also recommended African States to take leadership at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in introducing a Resolution on Wildlife Crime with a strong reporting mechanism.
The Declaration also encourages AU Member States to recognize the rights and increase the participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities in planning, management, and use of wildlife resources, and also to build their capacities to fight against wildlife crime. It further requests the AU to work with transit and consumer countries and develop joint actions to reduce and eventually eliminate supply, demand, and trade in the illegal wild flora and fauna products in Africa. Finally, the declaration calls partners to provide the necessary technical, financial and logistical support in the implementation, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation of the African Common Strategy and action plan.
The Declaration itself builds on outcomes agreed at previous international conferences on wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade, including those of the Elysée Summit on Peace and Security in Africa (December 2013, Paris, France), at the two Conferences on Illegal Wildlife Trade (February 2014, London, UK and the follow-up meeting in end March 2015 at Kasane, Botswana), the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN, in early March, Cairo, Egypt), with a strong focus on Africa-specific challenges and responses. [Download EN version] [Download FR version]
“Africa’s wild fauna and flora is seriously affected and depleted by the increase in poaching and illegal trade. It is good to note and experience the unanimous and firm commitment demonstrated today by African leaders to stop this trend, which is also a serious impediment to development in the region,” said Roland Melisch, TRAFFIC’s Senior Director for Africa and Europe.
“The meeting and the outcomes, is a significant and laudable positive step towards ending the global poaching and illegal trade crisis. We can now only encourage the AU Member States and partners to build on the conference momentum and support the agreed roadmap to finalize the wildlife crime strategy and its action plan which b would enable effective continent-wide and global action,” urged Melisch.
The high-level session of the conference was attended by Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, Idriss Deby, President of the Republic of Chad, Daniel Ona Ondo, Prime Minister of Gabon, Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director, Ibrahim Thiaw. Other high level dignitaries included African ministers or their representatives, representatives from Asian and European nations, the European Union, the CITES Secretariat, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Health Organisation, other United Nations Programmes, the African Development Bank and the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Lusaka Task Force Agreement, IUCN and other partners. A number of international non-governmental organizations were also present to provide their technical expertise, including TRAFFIC and WWF.
As a symbolic gesture of commitment to the fight against the illegal exploitation and illicit trade in ivory world fauna and flora in Africa, approximately five tonnes of ivory were destroyed in Brazzaville at the margins of the venue —probably Congo’s entire government-held ivory stockpile, on Wednesday 29th April, 2015. The pyre was lit by both the Presidents of the Republics of Congo and Chad.
The conference was co-hosted by the Republic of Congo, the African Union Commission, and UNEP.
1. The draft document on the ‘African Common Strategy on Combatting Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora’ includes updated text only from those sections of the strategy that were considered and discussed during the Brazzaville conference, with a focus on the strategic framework of the African Common Strategy 2015-2024. It is expected that the draft African Common Strategy agreed in Brazzaville will be updated by the ad-hoc committee, in support of the AU Commission, taking on board further discussions from the Brazzaville conference and additional details from the pre-Brazzaville full draft strategy, before being submitted forward to a consultative process that will include the AMCEN Bureau. The Brazzaville Conference recommended the Conference of Heads of States and Governments of the AU Assembly to adopt the African Common Strategy, once completed, as the blueprint and common guideline for Africa’s response to illegal exploitation and illicit trade in wildlife. The agreed process aims at reporting the African Common Strategy to the Ordinary Session of the AU’s Executive Council, ready for adoption by Heads of States in June 2015 in Durban, South Africa.
2. The Brazzaville conference was mandated by Decision EX.CL/ Dec.832 (XXV) of the Executive Council of the AU on ‘African Wild Flora and Fauna Conservation and Illegal Trade in Wildlife’, made at its 25th Ordinary Session 20 – 24 June 2014 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, as well as from Decision 15/2 made at the 15th Ordinary Session of AMCEN on the ‘African Common Strategy on Combatting Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora’ that was held from 2 - 6 March, 2015 in Cairo, Egypt. AMCEN meets every two years, and a Bureau (AMCEN Bureau) was established to act on its behalf between meetings. The UNEP Regional Office for Africa serves as the Secretariat to AMCEN since its inception.
Participation of TRAFFIC staff at the conference was supported by the German Development Corporation GIZ, on behalf of and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).