"The illegal wildlife trade is an issue worthy of global attention, at the highest levels of government."

Statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson of the UK Mission to the UN at the General Assembly Meeting on Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife

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Thank you Mr President,

The United Kingdom is proud to co-sponsor this important resolution on Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife. We align ourselves with the EU statement. And we would like to thank and congratulate Gabon and Germany. Over the last two years, their dedication and hard work has been vital in rallying support and guiding this process towards agreement.

This resolution demonstrates a powerful and growing consensus: that the illegal wildlife trade is an issue worthy of global attention, at the highest levels of government. This illicit trade is much more than an environmental issue; it drives corruption, damages economic growth and hinders sustainable development. It undermines good governance and the rule of law.

The iconic animals this resolution will help to protect hold a special place in our hearts and the hearts of our children. The outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe shows how strongly people feel about this issue.

This resolution recognises the huge efforts that are being made across the world to tackle the scourge of the illegal wildlife trade and the important steps that have been taken to secure international commitment. Having the issue recognised at the highest level of the United Nations is an essential step. We cannot lose the momentum that we have worked so hard to build. An annual review at the General Assembly will ensure it stays on the agenda. And we look forward to the recommendations of the Secretary General coming out of this review next year.

As hosts of the London Conference 18 months ago, the United Kingdom remains strongly committed to working with our international partners to turn the tide against this abhorrent trade. We supported Botswana in holding the Kasane Conference in March and we look forward to working closely with Vietnam, who are holding a third high level Conference in 2016. We will also shortly launch a further round of funding for projects around the world which will help to tackle the trade on the ground.

Mr President,

By working together, we have made progress. But there is much more to do. This resolution signals our collective determination and strikes a resounding blow against this destructive trade. It is a fight we can win. We will not relent until we do so.

Thank you.

Published 30 July 2015