Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

 

Remarks at the special event on "Addressing the nexus between illegal wildlife and forestry trades and corruption"

St. Petersburg, 3 November 2015

Excellencies,

Secretary-General Scanlon,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Wildlife and forest crime have emerged as serious threats in recent years.

Reports of seizures, the killing of park rangers, the price of these natural resources at destination markets, the multi-ton shipments - all bear the hallmark of transnational organized crime networks involved in wildlife and forest crime.

It is a crime that offers the least resistance and the profits are astronomical - as a business model for organized crime groups it makes sense.

Corruption is the great enabler of all criminal activities, and wildlife and forest crime is no exception..

Corruption plays a major role in every aspect of this crime, from facilitating the poaching of endangered species; to the granting of illegal or fraudulent licences for logging and hunting; to the transit and sale of ivory and other products to black markets across the world; and to the thwarting of investigations and prosecutions.

That is why preventing corruption is essential if we want to confront this crime.

I am sure that to those with long experience in the anti-corruption world recognize the actions that need to be taken.

Firstly, we need to identify corruption risks in the agencies tasked with protecting wildlife and forestry resources.

Secondly, we need to design strategies to mitigate these risks.

Thirdly, we need to empower communities and other key players to identify and address corruption.

And finally, we need public action that demonstrates that corruption will not be tolerated, and that means prosecution, conviction and incarceration of the criminals responsible.

The Kenya Wildlife Service, one of the first agencies to adopt this approach, will share their experiences with you in more detail later this morning.

Such preventative action must further be complemented by comprehensive efforts to address both supply and demand.

This has been recognized as key targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely under Goal 15 to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.

As with many other forms of organized crime, identifying the individuals responsible for wildlife crime - that is to say the kingpins and not just the foot soldiers - and bringing them to justice remains a major challenge.

Here too, anti-corruption measures, as well as concrete steps to stem illicit financial flows and recover related stolen assets, can help.

By investigating related corruption and money-laundering offences, the chances of successful action against the organized crime groups responsible significantly increases.

Ladies and gentlemen,

St Petersburg is where the international community recognized that global players needed to come together to combat wildlife and forest crime.

Five years ago, at the Global Tiger Summit, UNODC joined forces with the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization and created the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, or ICCWC, to strengthen the  global law enforcement response.

Significant progress has been made since then. At the policy level, a number of important resolutions have been passed by the Member States, placing this issue on the global agenda.

These include the July 2015 General Assembly resolution on tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife and the Doha Declaration, as well as recent resolutions by ECOSOC and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice - all calling upon Member States to make wildlife and forest crime a serious crime and increase cooperation, and welcoming UNODC support for capacity building.

UNODC's Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime has been working on the frontlines with law enforcement, prosecution, judiciary and relevant stakeholders at the national and international levels to address this crime.

UNODC is leading work on strengthening national legislative frameworks, building law enforcement capacity, supporting prosecutorial and judicial capacity, fostering international cooperation, developing innovative solutions in forensics and conducting research to further inform responses.

This session of the Conference of the States Parties is an opportunity to ensure that we use all the means at our disposal to combat wildlife and forest crime.

That includes the tools provided by the Convention against Corruption, to implement preventive anti-corruption measures, prosecute and punish offenders, and enhance cooperation, including with international organizations and civil society.

Everyone knows corruption is the elephant in the room when we are talking about organized crime - we need to start addressing it now before it is too late.

This is our shared planet. Stopping wildlife and forest crime is our shared responsibility.

Thank you .