ASEAN Ministers Advance Commitments to Counter Illegal Wildlife Trade

Chiang Mai, March 21, 2019 - Association for Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) ministers gathered in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Illegal Wildlife Trade (SAMM-IWT), held under the auspices of the 2019 Thailand Chairmanship of ASEAN.

The ministers adopted the Chiang Mai Statement of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for CITES and Wildlife Enforcement on the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), which outlines ASEAN’s commitments on increased action-oriented policy, law enforcement, wildlife cybercrime and demand reduction. 

The statement tackles ASEAN coordination on IWT, closing domestic wildlife markets where it contributes to poaching and the illegal trade, enhancing domestic legislation, reaffirming stronger responses to corruption and money-laundering and ensuring continued efforts on enforcement networking. 

This ministerial meeting also acknowledged the creation of an International Wildlife Cybercrime Working Group under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and encourages ASEAN member states to create national-level task forces to monitor the online illegal wildlife trade.

During the SAMM-IWT, USAID Wildlife Asia, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and the CITES Secretariat convened and facilitated a Partners Dialogue on Illegal Wildlife Trade which produced an informal partners statement of priorities and areas of cooperation, which was delivered to the ministers by the CITES Secretary-General.

“Currently a global collective effort is underway across governments, the UN, international and national organizations, the private sector, local communities and others, to combat wildlife crime. Since 2011 elephant poaching levels show a slight but steady downward trend year after year, and rhinoceros poaching levels have been declining since 2015, with 2018 poaching estimates projected to return to levels last observed in 2013. There is a lot more work to be done, but there is reason for optimism. We are on the right track and we are making progress,” said Ms. Ivonne Higuero, Secretary General of CITES.  

The panel of donors included USAID, the United Kingdom, European Union, the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime and the Global Environment Facility Global Wildlife Program. International and local NGOs contributed to the discussions and partners collective message to the ministers. 

Relevant information

  • A joint press statement Joint Press Statement of the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Illegal Wildlife Trade - Link
  • Photos from the event – Link