Global alliance strengthens commitment to fight wildlife-related and environmental crime
25 February 2011 - A new global alliance is meeting in Vienna to support requesting States in fighting powerful criminal syndicates that are plundering the world's flora and fauna. The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICWCC), which comprises five international agencies - the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, INTERPOL, UNODC, the World Customs Organization and the World Bank - is working to adopt a comprehensive and collaborative approach to helping to prevent the illegal exploitation of natural resources, including endangered species.
In view of the fact that 2011 has been declared the International Year of Forests, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov stressed: "Illicit trade in wildlife is a form of transnational organized crime that, just like trafficking in illegal drugs, weapons and human beings, brings negative consequences to security and development. And like most organized crime, it relies on the complicity of corrupt officials throughout the entire supply chain: forests and waters, border controls and local authorities in the markets where illegal wildlife is sold. Wildlife crime involves money-laundering, fraud, counterfeiting and violence, and in some cases it may have links to terrorist activities or insurgencies."
Mr. Fedotov further highlighted the need for international cooperation to counter criminal forces. "Wildlife crime is emblematic of the larger threat that transnational organized crime poses to the environment and sustainable development. To tackle it effectively requires the coordinated use of the proper tools of law enforcement throughout the whole chain of the criminal justice system," he said, adding: "We must also help source countries to provide decent livelihood opportunities to support marginalized groups that are forced by poverty and exploitation to be involved in wildlife poaching, illegal logging and other forms of wildlife crime."
William B. Magrath, Lead Natural Resource Economist for the World Bank, affirmed that the Bank had a compelling interest in seeing the improvement of global and national efforts to address natural resource and wildlife-related crimes. He said that ICCWC was providing the Bank with an opportunity to improve the cumulative impact of its earlier initiatives in areas such as forest law enforcement and governance, the fight against corruption, the Stolen Asset Recovery initiative and action against money-laundering.
In November 2010, the Consortium was launched at the International Tiger Forum in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, at which discussions focused on boosting tiger conservation efforts. Mr. Fedotov, emphasizing his commitment to supporting worldwide efforts to fight illicit trafficking, last week visited the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife in Abu Dhabi. "The Government of the United Arab Emirates fully supports our collaborative effort to step up the fight against wildlife crime and expressed strong interest in supporting the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime. This is a vote of confidence in our work", he said.
The collaboration among ICCWC members represents a direct response to the principles established by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in its resolution 16/1, adopted in 2007, which encourages Member States to take appropriate measures to strengthen law enforcement and related efforts to combat individuals and groups, including organized criminal groups, with a view to preventing, combating and eradicating illicit international trafficking in forest products, including timber, wildlife and other forest biological resources, harvested in contravention of national laws.
Among other activities, ICCWC is currently developing a wildlife and forest crime assessment toolkit to assist States in carrying out situational analysis of such crime.