Bangkok (Thailand), 9 April 2015 - Representatives from ASEAN Members States congregated for the pre-SOMTC: Conference on Wildlife and Timber Trafficking in Southeast Asia co-organised by the Royal Thai Police and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The meeting was set up to precede the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC), taking place in June 2015, in order to discuss the trafficking in wildlife and timber as a new area under the existing ASEAN agenda to combat transnational organized crime. The inter-continental nature of wildlife and timber trafficking along with the increasing sophistication of criminal groups involved makes it an emerging environmental emergency, but also a security challenge.
Mr. Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative, emphasised the importance of the conference as "the outcome of this discussion will likely affect the way in which ASEAN Member States perceive the threats posed by environmental crimes and allocate resources to combat them through the criminal justice system."
This pre-SOMTC meeting serves as a forum for ASEAN policy-makers to discuss the need to include wildlife and timber trafficking as a priority for the SOMTC, leading to better strategies, more resources, and improved cooperation among law enforcement institutions. Police Major General Apichat Suriboonya, Head of INTERPOL National Central Bureau of Thailand reiterated that "SOMTC Thailand and UNODC agreed that now is the right time for wildlife and timber trafficking to be considered as a new priority of ASEAN framework on transnational crime."
The proposal elaborated during the conference will be presented at the annual SOMTC for endorsement and transmission to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime, taking place in late 2015. The UNODC will continue to support ASEAN and its Member States to build capacity, improve legal frameworks and create new opportunities for regional cooperation to counter wildlife and timber trafficking.
The UNODC Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime (GP) is a four-year programme linking regional efforts to a global framework, enhancing capacity-building and wildlife law enforcement networks at regional and sub-regional levels. The GP is working for and with the law enforcement community to ensure that wildlife crime, illegal logging, and related crimes are treated as serious transnational organized crimes.