UNODC works hand in hand with Central Africa in combating wildlife and forest crime

Recognizing the growing commitment of Central Africa to tackle the illegal trafficking of wildlife and timber, the UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime organized the first Regional Workshop of Central African States on strengthening border controls to address illicit wildlife and forest crime, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, from 31 August to 2 September 2015.

UNODC, in partnership with the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC) brought together representatives and experts from law enforcement forces and judiciary of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon. Over three days, experts from different national delegations and representatives of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), INTERPOL, World Customs Organization, non-governmental organizations TRAFFIC, WWF and the PALF project, discussed best practices to improve coordination of law enforcement and judicial activities to combat transnational illicit trafficking and illegal trade.

These frank and open discussions allowed experts to examine the current strengths and weaknesses of their national institutions and to reaffirm the relevance of the use of existing information-sharing mechanisms on tracing wildlife.

 
High-level participants and experts at the regional workshop in Brazzaville

The representatives also recognized the need to develop inter-agency mechanisms specifically dedicated to wildlife and forest crime, which would also be responsible for developing law enforcement, prosecutorial strategies and policies in this area in their respective states.

Based on these working sessions, participants drafted recommendations expressing their commitment to create a regional operational platform for sharing and exchange of information, including intelligence and evidence on environmental crimes. The implementation of these national inter-ministerial bodies, responsible for coordinating the fight against this crime through their international cooperation by way of the new platform, will enable an effective and appropriate regional response.

Following this regional workshop, these experts unanimously reaffirmed their commitment to be assisted by UNODC in the design and implementation of such a structure.

Mr. Pierre Lapaque at the closing ceremony

At the workshop's closing ceremony, His Excellency Mr. Henri Djombo, Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Congo, Mr. Pierre Lapaque, UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, and the representative of the US Embassy of the Republic of Congo, stressed the urgency of the situation and urged participants to bring these recommendations to their respective ministries with the aim of quickly establishing this platform. Participants pledged commitment to establishing, as soon as possible, national coordination structures to accelerate the effective implementation of the platform. Mr. Lapaque closed the workshop with the words: "The real work begins now."

This workshop builds on international developments to support greater cooperation between law enforcement forces. The African Strategy on Combating Illegal Exploitation and Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa of June 2015 and the UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/69/314 of 30 July 2015 on "Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife" both recommend increasing information sharing and operational relations between African States with the aim of strengthening investigation and prosecution by their competent institutions.

Further Information at:

UNODC and Wildlife and Forest Crime

UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime