Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Trade in endangered wildlife has been a concern in the global community since the dawn of international environmental law. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), one of the most successful international environmental treaties established, addresses the issue through regulation of international trade in certain wildlife species. However, the effectiveness of the treaty has been greatly undermined through illegal wildlife trading. Recently, the illegal wildlife trade has attracted the attention of organized criminal groups, whose participation in the trade have helped make the black market for wildlife the second largest in the world.

Providing stricter enforcement mechanisms for CITES and for prevention of organized criminal group activities in the illegal wildlife trade has become a primary focus for the CITES Secretariat. This Note considers some of the international mechanisms needed to achieve these goals, including enactment of legislation specifically aimed at wildlife crime, clearer definitions of culpability requirements, enforcement of stricter penalties for violators of wildlife laws, and extradition agreements between states. This Note also argues that the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is currently the best mechanism for international enforcement of CITES.