Earlier this year, Vietnam’s prime minister called for a ban of the wildlife trade in the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several months later, the government released a directive on the wildlife trade.
Hailed as a ban in some media coverage, the move fell short of that, as the directive did not introduce any new laws or regulations; instead it called on a number of ministries and government agencies to work on improving enforcement of existing rules and handing down stricter punishments for violations.
This misunderstanding is not surprising, as Vietnam’s system of government is not common. The country’s socialist system means the relationship between the central government and provinces is different than in many other countries. The system can also be opaque.
Legislation related to conservation is no different, and it is worth taking a look at these laws and how they are enforced given Vietnam’s status as a biodiversity hotspot and also a major transit point for wildlife trafficking routes.