A multi-country Parliamentary Effort Takes a Serious Stand Against Wildlife Crime
Freeland congratulates the 36th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) on their approval today of a resolution to combat wildlife crime, making wildlife crime a permanent item on the AIPA Caucus Agenda.
The resolution calls for parliaments to oversee the implementation of national strategies to support ASEAN national commitments in curbing wildlife crime, and to continue a partnership with Freeland and the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN).
“This move is historic,” says Brian Gonzales, ASEAN Liaison for Freeland. “Frontline officers have been trying for years to tackle organized wildlife crime syndicates that are driving the poaching and trafficking of endangered species, a multi-billion dollar trade,” Gonzales adds. “But they are hampered by a lack of resources and laws riddled with loopholes. AIPA’s entry in to the war on wildlife crime will bring much needed support from the policy makers and purse strings to the frontline.”
AIPA is a regional legislative networking body comprising parliamentarians and legislative assemblies from all 10 ASEAN countries, and currently headed by Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malaysia. AIPA facilitates the harmonization of legislation across ASEAN on such cross border issues as drug and human trafficking, health, women, security, and economic and political matters, while the Caucus, created in 2009 at the 28th AIPA General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur, monitors the implementation of AIPA’s resolutions, promoting information exchange among member countries for common legislation and studying the feasibility of developing parallel legal measures in member countries. The 2016 Caucus will be hosted by the National Assembly of Lao PDR under the leadership of Speaker Pany Yathotu.
The draft resolution was drafted by AIPA Secretary General P.O. Ram which was discussed at the organisational committee meeting. The committee was presided over by Committee Chairman and Malaysian Member of Parliament Dr Tan Seng Giaw. A few days later, on 11th September, 2015, the resolution was passed at the plenary assembly.
The resolution was discussed and approved by consensus, after which all parties were in agreement about the importance of wildlife protection and the need to strengthen relevant laws and their enforcement to more effectively combat wildlife trafficking. The resolution will also promote joint cooperation between the ASEAN-WEN network and the ARREST program under Freeland to form a ‘green legislative agenda’ for AIPA, its member parliaments, and other ASEAN partners. AIPA also approved the 2015-2016 Work Plan which incorporates tangible deliverables under the AIPA-Freeland agreement, and activating the 2012 and 2015 GA resolutions.
The one-week General Assembly, from 6th to 12th September, was being held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, under the theme ‘Engaging a People-Oriented, People-Centered ASEAN Community Towards Inclusiveness’. The General Assembly was opened by Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak. Apart from the Speakers and Presidents of AIPA member parliaments, the 36th General Assembly welcomed special observers and guests from parliaments of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, India, China, Belarus and the European Parliament. Freeland and ASEAN-WEN have been permanent guests of AIPA General Assembly host parliaments since 2012.
AIPA President, Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia expressed his belief that parliamentarians could do more to narrow the gap in international relations through parliamentary diplomacy, adding that through the regional and international parliamentary network, AIPA will serve as a valuable diplomatic channel for discussions and negotiations on many regional issues. Over the years, AIPA, together with ASEAN, has taken many steps forward, with efforts being undertaken to develop a common identity and a sense of community.
Wildlife trafficking is a serious issue in Asia, with the ASEAN and East Asia Foreign Ministers recognizing it as a Non-Traditional Security Threat in East Asia and the Pacific. At the 2014 East Asia Summit in Nay Phi Taw, Myanmar, heads of states and governments of ASEAN issued the first-ever high level Declaration on Combatting Wildlife Trafficking, urging member states to harmonize legal and administrative regulations to support the exchange of evidence and criminal prosecution of wildlife crime.
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Note to Editors:
About the AIPA Caucus
The Caucus will oversee the implementation of national strategies that support ASEAN’s national commitments to curb wildlife crime. The Caucus represents an important step for encouraging the work under AIPA’s framework in order to integrate and make more effective the work of legislative bodies and study the feasibility of developing parallel legal measures in member countries.
The AIPA Caucus also plays an important role in encouraging the cooperation between public and private sectors as well as other organizations, to enhance the cooperation between AIPA and ASEAN and other international organizations and facilitate the submission process of results and recommendations to the AIPA General Assembly