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Where the Local Meets the Global: Local Enforcement of International Wildlife Law


November 13, 2019



An Environmental Law Institute and International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Co-Sponsored Webinar

Many enforcement tools are currently used to combat biodiversity and wildlife crimes at the international, national, and local levels. At the international level, existing treaties and international norms such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aim to bind states to take action to protect wildlife. Nationally, states enact and enforce regulatory schemes to monitor and impose penalties for biodiversity and wildlife crimes, like the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the United States. Local governments likewise seek to control the behavior of big-game hunters. In Nepal, for example, some local communities adjacent to protected areas have established Community Based Anti-Poaching Units (CBAPUs) to encourage local youth volunteerism to help protect biodiversity. Why then is the global community still experiencing unprecedented rates of biodiversity loss and species extinctions? What responses are needed from the legal community to address this crisis?

With climate change and human activity posing an increasing threat to biodiversity, it is critical to take stock of the impact current enforcement tools have on stemming biodiversity loss. How effective have each of these tools been in addressing the issue? How do the separate frameworks at the global, national, and local levels fit together? How well does international law work in conjunction with local enforcement practices to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching? What are the current gaps, and how can these be addressed?

Our panelists explored the different enforcement methods that address illegal wildlife crime and trade. Panelists also discussed best practices for policymakers and focused on what is needed from the international community to protect the Earth’s remaining biodiversity.


Achinthi Vithanage, Visiting Associate Professor of Law, George Washington Law School, Moderator
Andrea Crosta, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Earth League International
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director - Asia, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Tim O’Connell, Support Officer, International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), CITES Secretariat