Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

 

Remarks at the launch of the first World Wildlife Crime Report

24 May 2016

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

UNODC is proud to present the first World Wildlife Crime Report.

The World Wildlife Crime Report is the result of a strong mandate received from Member States.

UNODC partnered with other organizations, in particular the CITES Secretariat, as well as other members of ICCWC, namely the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL and the World Bank.

We also drew on support from UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre, TRAFFIC and IUCN, among others. 

Based on the latest and best available data, and building on UNODC's established expertise in researching and analysing multifarious aspects of transnational organized crime, this report comes at a decisive time, when the international community has clearly recognized the urgency of saving our planet's flora and fauna from the predations of organized criminals.

The General Assembly resolution on "Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife", as well as targets on combatting the poaching and trafficking of protected species under the Sustainable Development Goals, provide a powerful framework for action.

Governments need to be equipped with the information and tools to put these commitments into practice, and this report, which represents two years of comprehensive research, can support such responses.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

Wildlife crime is a serious transnational organized crime that deserves serious consequences.

The threat includes the desperate plight of iconic species such as tigers, African elephants and rhinos at the hands of poachers.

But it also includes thousands and thousands of lesser-known animals, as well as marine and plant life, that are under serious pressure, and that cannot survive without our attention and help.

This is a central message of our report, which clearly shows the global dimensions of wildlife crime.

All countries play a role as either source, transit or destination countries, and we share a responsibility to act.

The report found that nearly 7,000 different species have been accounted for in more than 164,000 seizures, affecting 120 countries.

From fashion to furniture, food to footwear, perfume to pets, the products of wildlife and forest crime may be hidden in plain sight.

While some illegally traded forms of wildlife, such as ivory, feed primarily into illegal retail markets, other illegally acquired products such as reptile skins are mostly sold through legal outlets.

As we have seen over and over with all forms of organized crime and trafficking, criminals exploit gaps in legislation, law enforcement and criminal justice systems.

The report findings enabled UNODC to identify key policy implications that could help address shortcomings in current responses.

First, outside the CITES system, most national laws do not criminalize the possession of wildlife that was illegally harvested or traded from abroad.

Criminalizing the possession of wildlife that was illegally sourced anywhere in the world would be an important step in tackling wildlife crime.

Second, range countries must be supported to develop sustainable livelihoods for communities, and strengthen capacities to protect their natural heritage.

Third, seizure data shows that most enforcement activities to combat international wildlife trafficking take place at ports of entry, rather than in domestic markets.

Strengthening the capacities of customs and border control officials should therefore be a priority.

Fourth, targeted law enforcement responses rely on the proper identification of species, which can be supported through increased use of wildlife forensic science, including DNA and isotopic analysis.

Fifth, supporting the establishment of new protected areas to address habitat loss should be considered by the international community.

Sixth, forgery, fraud and corruption remain major facilitators of wildlife crime. Corruption must be tackled throughout the supply chain.

Governments should make use of the UN Convention on Corruption, as well as the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, to address this crime.

Finally, global demand for illegal wildlife products must be reduced.

All these efforts must be coordinated for optimal strategic effect and maximum impact.

Excellencies,

I very much hope that you will make use of this report. UNODC's experience and expertise, and the support we provide, including through our Global Programme for Combatting Wildlife and Forest Crime, are at your disposal.

Thank you.