Wildlife Trade, Pandemics and the Law: Fighting This Year’s Virus with Last Year’s Law


As of January 22, 2021, over 97M human cases and 2.1M deaths have been reported globally due to COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. Both figures are almost double what they were just two months prior; with infection rates and mortality still climbing.

The international response has of course been strong with significant attention being given to how we can change international agreements like UNTOC and CITES. There has also been talk of prohibiting wildlife trade altogether and pursuing better management of natural resources.

But zoonotic diseases are not new, and most countries have some policies in place to manage zoonotic disease risks or impacts but require re-examination in light of COVID-19. This report therefore takes a critical look at the national legal context, sampling 38 jurisdictions and asking; what have nations already done with their laws that support the monitoring and prevention of disease emergence that comes from wildlife? In particular, it examines how ten different areas of law respond to this need. In addition to the main findings, the authors provide a summary of the legal challenges and the many opportunities for immediate action.

We invite you to consider the findings and to join us in further conversations on how laws can best support these efforts. If not attached to this announcement, the report can be found through Legal Atlas’s social media accounts, as well as in the publications section of their website.

For more information, contact:
James Wingard, JD
Co-Founder and Legal Director, Legal Atlas
Email: james.wingard@legal-atlas.net

Catherine Machalaba, MPH, PhD
Senior Policy Advisor and Scientist, EcoHealth Alliance
Email: machalaba@ecohealthalliance.org

A. Alonso Aguirre, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Department Chair & Professor, Environmental Science and Policy
George Mason University
Email: aaguirr3@gmu.edu

For more on Legal Atlas
For more on EcoHealth Alliance
For more on Prof. Aguirre, at George Mason University

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