WCO Report Reviews Compliance under Trade-Related MEAs

wco28 June 2013: The World Customs Organization (WCO) released its annual Illicit Trade Report, which for the first time presents information across five thematic areas in one publication and recognizes the linkages among illicit trade in different commodities. Among its six chapters, the Report features an Environment Section that reviews compliance with the main multi-lateral environment agreements (MEAs) with international trade-related provisions.

The Report dedicates ten pages to the analysis of seizures under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The publication notes that since customs serves as a border-enforcement agency, it plays an important role in the implementation of the CITES Convention. According to the Report, with support from the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL and the Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) and the joint efforts of 41 customs administrations, more than 2,200 items were seized. The operation, called HOPE targeted air and maritime consignments, as well as passengers. The Report also notes specifically Project GAPIN (Great Apes and Integrity), which aims to raise awareness of the illegal international trade in wildlife and related corruption among customs officers. Now in its second phase (GAPIN II), the project has expanded its focus to other species as well.

In its section on timber, the Report highlights efforts undertaken to curb illegal trade in timber species, citing that deforestation caused by illegal logging is a major contributor to climate change.

In the section on the Basel Convention, which regulates the trans-boundary movement of hazardous and other wastes, the Report notes different efforts undertaken to combat the illegal trade in these environmentally sensitive goods, including Operations Demeter I and II, with the latter targeting maritime shipments.

With Regard to the Montreal Protocol, the Report features the project Sky-Hole-Patching, which has 21 participating customs organizations and in 2012, reported 20 seizures. Finally, noting the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the Report says that since the Convention will regulate movements across international borders, its effective implementation by customs will be essential for ensuring compliance. [Publication: WCO 2012 Illicit Trade Report] [WCO Press Release]