14 April 2015
Executive Director of the UNODC: ‘balanced approach, addressing supply and demand, in a spirit of shared responsibility, is needed’ to combat wildlife crime
‘Wildlife and forest crime … has the potential, not only to devastate the environment, but also to undermine the social, political and economic well-being of societies, while generating billions of dollars for criminal gangs and sustaining their illicit activities’, General Assembly President Sam Kutesa told a high-level event held as part of the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
Wildlife and forest crime includes the taking, trading, importing, exporting, processing, possessing, obtaining and consumption of flora and fauna (animals, birds, fish, plants and trees) in contravention to national and international law. The impact of the crime is global, but wildlife and forest crime is particular acute in developing countries as under-resourced governments often lack the capacity to regulate the exploitation of their natural resources.
The Secretary-General of the Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES), John Scanlon, emphasised the need to treat wildlife crime as a serious crime, saying: ‘It is because the scale and nature of illegal wildlife trade have changed over recent years and so must the global response. And it is responding but more clearly needs to be done’, he added.
The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, said inadequate legislative frameworks remain ‘far too commonplace’. He said that there is a need to apply the techniques that are known to be effective in fighting organised crime networks generally (e.g. intelligence sharing and going after the money and tracking illegal goods to their destinations). ‘Finally, we must make the development of alternative livelihoods a priority, to support the communities, in some countries, hurt most by this crime. In brief, a balanced approach, addressing supply and demand, in a spirit of shared responsibility, is needed’, he added.