Wildlife Trade, Pandemics and the Law: Fighting This Year's Virus With Last Year's Law

May 25, 2021
The spread of dangerous infectious diseases like COVID-19 is intrinsically linked to human overexploitation of animals, habitat destruction, and other ecosystem disruptions. Yet despite increasing calls for greater regulation and management of the wildlife trade and other harmful practices, analysis of existing legal frameworks is sparse. In a new report, Legal Atlas explores legal responses to managing zoonotic disease outbreaks at the international and national levels.

In its analysis of a selection of laws directed at wildlife conservation and trade, animal health and welfare, food safety, and the meat industry, the report looks for three types of regulatory content, in particular:
1. whether the law regulates the sale of wildlife;
2. whether it regulates the markets where wildlife is sold; and
3. whether it includes regulations specific to the management of zoonotic disease.

The results show that while a majority of the countries reviewed has at least one or more laws with relevant content, major gaps remain to be filled, and more research must be done to understand the full state of global regulations.