Yury Fedotov

Director General/Executive Director

Remarks at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade

Hanoi, 17 November 2016

 

I would like to thank and commend you for your passionate commitment to stopping the illegal wildlife trade.

The United Nations was founded to harmonize the efforts of countries to attain common goals of peace, security and better standards of life in larger freedom.

This includes collective action to promote the healthy and sustainable use of our planet and its resources.

The fight against wildlife and forest crime has been recognized as an urgent priority in these efforts, one we must act upon before it is too late.

The adoption of the London Declaration, Kasane Statement and UN General Assembly resolutions has raised awareness, and encouraged governments to shore up national legislation and strengthen international cooperation to comprehensively address illicit supply and demand.

But while we have made some headway, the crisis continues.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime issued the first World Wildlife Crime Report earlier this year.

Our research makes clear the global dimensions of this very serious form of transnational organized crime, with nearly 7,000 different species in more than 164,000 seizures, affecting 120 countries.

We need to do more to deal with gaps in information, legislation and regulation, and capacities for addressing the problem.

UNODC remains committed to working with the CITES Secretariat and other partners to step up our support to countries.

We need your help to promote further measures to strengthen criminal justice and preventive responses, including through use of the UN conventions against transnational organized crime and corruption.

An important step would be for all countries to criminalize the possession of wildlife illegally sourced anywhere in the world.

Penalties should be adequate for a serious crime, and serve as a deterrent.

Other measures could include:

  • establishing national inter-agency wildlife crime task forces;
  • harmonizing national legal frameworks to facilitate the exchange of evidence among government agencies in wildlife crime cases;
  • increasing the use of forensic wildlife science;
  • strengthening the capacities of customs and border control officials to deal with seizures;
  • enhancing cooperation between source, transit and designation countries through exchange of intelligence and joint investigation teams; and
  • providing guidance and training to prosecutors and judges to increase convictions and commensurate sentencing.

Finally, the international community must come together to promote sustainable livelihoods, for and with affected communities, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

We must also work together to reduce global demand for illegal wildlife products.

Ladies and gentlemen,

How fitting it is that we are following the London and Kasane conferences in Hanoi, in a country blessed with great natural beauty, in a region that has an important role to play in combating wildlife trafficking.

Southeast Asia has tragically suffered losses in its rich biodiversity, including tiger and rhino sub-species, while pangolins, rosewood and other species are being decimated by a continuing criminal trade.

It has also become a transit area and destination for elephant ivory and rhino horns from Africa, and tigers and rare turtles from South Asia.

The leaders of Southeast Asia, along with their counterparts across the world, have repeatedly emphasized their political will to stop the carnage.

This conference can take this global goodwill forward, build on the achievements of London and Kasane, and catalyse awareness and intention into decisive and effective action to preserve our natural heritage.

You can count on the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to support you.

Thank you.