UNODC-hosted meeting strengthens measures to protect elephants killed for illegal ivory trade

VIENNA, 6 December  - As elephant poaching in Africa reaches alarming levels, forensic scientists, law enforcement experts and prosecutors wrapped up a three-day meeting in Vienna this week to support the international community's efforts in combating wildlife crime. Convened by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in partnership with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) the meeting aimed to develop guidelines for ivory sampling and analysis to be employed at wildlife crime scenes and by forensic laboratories. 

UNODC's Director of the Division for Operations Aldo Lale-Demos highlighted the importance of addressing this rapidly growing transnational organized crime, which threatens national security, rule of law, economic and social development.

The Chief of the Laboratory and Scientific Section at UNODC Justice Tettey pointed out that the guidelines will include recognition of national disparities in capacities and legal frameworks and highlighted the need for standardization in addressing a crime which crosses borders.

At the just-concluded African Elephant Summit held in Gaborone, Botswana, Governments pledged to tackle the illegal ivory chain and urgently called for the development of a network of forensic laboratories equipped to trace the origin of seized ivory for DNA and isotopic analysis in line with international standards, which can provide evidence in a court of law.  UNODC, which assists States in gaining access to quality forensic scientific services in their efforts to combat illicit drugs and crime, is drawing on its partnership with ICCWC to bolster capacities of laboratories in affected countries. 

Revealing the origin of ivory samples can help to maximize the effectiveness of law enforcement by pinpointing areas where significant poaching is occurring. Knowing how to properly process a crime scene is equally important to maximize the effectiveness of prosecution. Realizing these goals could help significantly tackle transnational organized wildlife crime.

Figures from a variety of sources indicate that elephants are being poached at unprecedented rates and urgent measures are needed to stop this illegal trade. This meeting brought together experts from around the world, pooling their knowledge to devise best practices to achieve these goals.

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For further information please contact:
Jorge Rios, Chief, Sustainable Livelihoods Unit and Coordinator of the
Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme, UNODC
Email: Jorge.rios[at]unodc.org
and
Preeta Bannerjee, Public Information Officer, UNODC
Mobile: (+43) 6991 459 5764
Email: preeta.bannerjee[at]unodc.org 

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