For the first time at the UN General Assembly the estimated $5 billion per year black market in wildlife, wildlife parts, and endangered species has been raised as a topic of discussion, with the trade being called a threat to the rule of law.
Traffic quotes the French Minister Delegate for Development: "There are still entire sectors of activity without any legal safety. International law is lacking when it comes to the plundering of natural resources, for example, or the trafficking of fauna."The President of Gabon said, "Organized crime is increasingly affecting the environment and biodiversity through poaching and illegal fishing. Gabon intends to strengthen its criminal justice system to combat this phenomenon, but such efforts will require a greater international legal cooperation."
TreeHugger has covered the increasingly organized and in may cases militarized global trade in ivory, rhino horn, tiger parts, and other endangered species many times, so check out the links to the left for some examples of this, if you're not already familiar.
As for one very recent example, recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo 22 elephants were killed for their tusks, apparently herded together via helicopter and shot from the air by marksmen, with the Ugandan military itself implicated.
Will bring the issue of wildlife trafficking up at the UN General Assembly really do much to stop it—especially given the incredibly high prices people are will to pay for, say, rhino horn?
Wendy Elliot of WWF lays it out:
[Illicit wildlife trafficking] is often a low risk and high profit activity, which is a dangerous combination. Governments have made a significant step forward by introducing the issue into this important forum on the rule of law. We now call on them to increase their law enforcement response to wildlife crime on a commensurate basis.