UK MPs call for action in advance of London Summit on Illegal Wildlife Crime

Pictured at IFAW’s Criminal Nature event at Westminster, (left to right) speaker Davyth Stewart, INTERPOL Criminal Intelligence Officer, with IFAW UK Director Robbie Marsland.One of the ways backbench Members of Parliament are asked to show their support for important causes is to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM).

These currently range from Rotary Club anniversaries to arms sales to authoritarian regimes. Three of the current top 10 are concerned with animal welfare, which shows its importance to our elected representatives.

The one we have been supporting, EDM 72 on International Wildlife Crime, has just passed the number Ministers regard to be significant – 100 signatories. When you take out the Ministers, Shadow Ministers and MPs who don’t sign EDMs for one reason or another, that’s a very high figure on what is basically a petition for MPs.

The EDM was tabled by the Chair of Parliament’s Animal Welfare Group, Neil Parish MP, who has a strong record of drawing the Government’s attention to the threat of poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife.

It has become even more topical with the Government’s announcement that London is to host an international summit on Illegal Wildlife Crime in February next year.

The motion is particularly important because it highlights that the illegal trade can only be combated effectively if it is seen as more than just an ‘environmental’ matter – it specifically “calls on other Government departments including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, the Home Department and the Ministry of Defence to take a more active interest in this issue so that the UK takes a lead internationally in tackling this crime.”

As the links between terrorism and wildlife trafficking become better documented, the threat to international stability becomes clearer. Indeed, one group identified as partly funding itself through the illegal ivory trade, Al-Shabaab, was believed to be behind the recent atrocities in the Kenyan shopping mall.

At the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), we are working internationally to highlight this threat.

Neil Parish tells us that now his EDM has reached 100 signatures, he will write to the relevant Government Minister drawing his attention to the strength of feeling in Parliament.

Just last week we presented further research to MPs, with the parliamentary launch of IFAW’s ‘Criminal Nature’ report, which highlights the global security implications of the illegal wildlife trade.

INTERPOL Criminal Intelligence Officer Davyth Stewart outlined the severity of the problem worldwide to those present. Combined with the recognition given by successive US Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and indeed representatives of governments across the world, we expect coordinated action to be taken.

The time for talking is over.

--RM

You can read the EDM in full here, and if your MP hasn’t yet signed it, please ask them to do so – or they can write to the Government Minister responsible, Lord de Mauley.

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