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Wildlife and timber trafficking conference agrees to expanded ASEAN interregional cooperation

Bangkok (Thailand), 22 June 2016
- Representatives from ASEAN Members States have convened in Bangkok from 20-22 June for the Inter-regional Conference on Wildlife and Timber Trafficking, co-organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Royal Thai Police. Acknowledging the transnational and interregional scope of wildlife and timber crime, delegations from South Asia and selected African countries also participated in the Conference.

The Conference comes on the back of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime in October 2015, which officially included the trafficking of wildlife and timber in the list of regional transnational crime priority threats. This significant development changed the way in which ASEAN Member States perceived threats posed by environmental crimes. Accordingly, this Conference sought to continue strengthening regional and inter-regional law enforcement cooperation, and improving national responses to combat wildlife and timber trafficking. 

Jeremy Douglas United Nations UN UNODC

"The transnational and interregional nature of wildlife and timber trafficking, along with the increasing sophistication of criminal groups involved, makes it not only an emerging environmental emergency, but also a security challenge", said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. "The outcome of discussions from the Conference will aid ASEAN Member States to better work together, both within and outside the region, to address these issues."

The rapid and continuing emergence of high profile cases of both wildlife and timber trafficking highlight how widespread these crimes have become. Recently, for example, charges of wildlife trafficking were officially laid against those behind Thailand's Tiger Temple, and investigations remain ongoing.   

Equally, however, such cases demonstrate the strengthened resolve among ASEAN Member States to address these crimes.  "I hope the conference has achieved the best work programme as expected and the conference has become a forum to allow for further intelligence exchange, "said Deputy Police Chief Pol. Gen. Wutti Liptapanlop. "This has become a very good start for ASEAN and Africa to work together in the future."

The Conference produced a draft ASEAN work programme in support of improved cooperation amongst law enforcement authorities to tackle wildlife and timber trafficking, including performance indicators to be monitored along the way. Participant countries for the Conference included representatives from ASEAN Member States, India, Kenya, and South Africa among others.

The Conference was organized as part of UNODC's Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime (GP) which connects 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.