United States Boosts Thailand’s Ability to Fight Wildlife Crimes
The U.S.-sponsored Asia-Pacific Judicial Symposium on Best Practices in Environmental Courts and Adjudication, held online from June 17 to 18, 2021, brought together dozens of regional and global judicial leaders and experts to advance environmental jurisprudence in the region.
Thailand is currently drafting its own rules of procedure for environmental cases, which will now be informed by international best practices and other countries’ experiences following the Judicial Symposium. The event promoted Thailand’s regional judicial leadership in ASEAN and advanced Thailand’s own environment courts agenda.
“The United States government remains fully committed to its partnership with regional and national leadership across ASEAN to deter wildlife crime, conserve biodiversity, and uphold the rule of law for the regional stability that underpins a free and open Indo-Pacific. We are honored to work with the Royal Thai Government, and the Supreme Court of Thailand, to improve legal frameworks, to share among nations legal innovations and good practices, and to harmonize the penalties for wildlife crimes across all countries of the region,” said Michael Heath, Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Thailand.
USAID Wildlife Asia, the Office of the President of the Supreme Court (OPSC), the Supreme Court of Thailand (SCT), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), with assistance from Asian Research Institute for Environmental Law, organized the Symposium. At the event, the Supreme Court of Thailand and counterparts from the U.S., Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines and the larger judicial community in the region discussed best practices in environmental courts and adjudication, including handling environment crimes such as illegal wildlife trafficking.
This is the culmination of a two-year cooperative effort between USAID Wildlife Asia, the Supreme Court of Thailand, and other partners like UNEP to support the Thai Judiciary in advancing their own environment courts initiative. The cooperative effort includes raising awareness and providing targeted continuing legal education at several levels such as the development of the Introductory Course on International and National Environmental Law and Governance in Thailand, which provides the foundations of environmental law and environmental crimes, ensuring that wildlife crime is recognized as an integral part of environmental crime.
“We are confronted by a triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. More than ever, the judiciary must be innovative and bold when handling environmental cases. Judges should endeavor to promote environmental rights with their decisions to help address this triple crisis and ensure a sustainable future for the people they serve.” said Isabelle Louis, UNEP’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
The U.S. Embassy has several agencies working to help Thailand and other countries in the region fight wildlife trafficking. The USAID Wildlife Asia Program is just one of the many U.S.-sponsored efforts to deter wildlife crime, protect endangered species from extinction, and reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products.
Symposium presenters and panelists included representatives from the Thai Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, Land and Environment Court of New South Wales, Australia, the Supreme Court of Hawai’i, Supreme Court of India, Supreme People’s Court of China, Supreme Court of Pakistan, U.S. Department of Justice, and justices and environmental law experts from the Asia Pacific region.
USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American generosity, and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience. For more information, please visit https://www.usaid.gov/
About USAID Wildlife Asia
The USAID Wildlife Asia project works to address wildlife trafficking as a transnational crime. The project aims to reduce consumer demand for wildlife parts and products, strengthen law enforcement, enhance legal and political commitment, and support regional collaboration to reduce wildlife crime in Southeast Asia, particularly Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. USAID Wildlife Asia focuses on four species: elephant, rhinoceros, tiger and pangolin. For more information, please visit www.usaidwildlifeasia.org
About the Supreme Court of Thailand
The Supreme Court of Thailand is the highest Thai court of justice, covering criminal and civil cases in Thailand. For more information, please visit http://www.supremecourt.or.th/
About the UN Environment Programme
UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. For more information, please visit https://www.unep.org/
For more information, please contact:
Dorelyn Jose, Communications, Outreach and Learning Specialist
USAID Wildlife Asia
Wiraporn Srisuwanwattana, Development Outreach and Communications Specialist
U.S. Agency for International Development/Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA)