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“Going down the glocal”: Wildlife crime in Vietnam

Young, Mary A



The prevailing attitude of global law enforcement authorities combined with media hyperbole perpetuates the assumption that the illegal wildlife trade has a synchronic relationship with organised crime and additionally generates huge profits for the individuals involved. The global trade in rhino horn, which is poached, trafficked, sold and consumed as part of a thriving, illicit market, in wildlife products is generally viewed as one of the most heinous wildlife crimes given that the five species of rhino (white, black, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan) are regularly reported as being on the brink of extinction. While many support that a coetaneous contract exists between organised crime and wildlife crime at the general level, there is little to suggest that at the local level, the rhino horn trade in Vietnam constitutes organised criminal behaviour. Borrowing its title from Hobbs (1998) analytical work, which focused on the local rather than the transnational dimension of organised crime, the purpose of this paper is to examine whether the illegal wildlife trade, and specifically, the rhino horn trade in Vietnam, meet the criteria of organised crime set out under existing international and domestic legal frameworks. The conclusions drawn from the research challenge the assumption that wildlife crime at the local level in Vietnam is organised crime. Through an analysis of international and domestic norms, it can be concluded that wildlife crime in Vietnam is not categorised by domestic law as a serious crime and therefore cannot be classified as organised crime at the international level, although media and law enforcement reports claim contrary. Moreover, supplemental interview data indicates that the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam is largely inhabited by informal participants who rely on the profits for subsistence and who lack the formal organisation required by international legislation, in order to satisfy the legal definition of organised crime. The author stresses that the context of locality of the rhino horn trade has to form the basis of future policy making decisions if this destructive trade is to be effectively curbed.


Young, M. A. (2017). “Going down the glocal”: Wildlife crime in Vietnam. European Review of Organised Crime, 4(1), 54-83

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2017
Publication Date Aug 31, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 30, 2017
Journal The European Review of Organised Crime
Print ISSN 2312-1653
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 1
Pages 54-83
Keywords Vietnam, rhino horn, international law, subsistence, organised crime, money laundering, poverty, United Nations, illegal enterprise, criminal networks, poaching
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