States gathered at the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), on 16 October, passed a Resolution on Preventing and combating crimes that affect the environment falling within the scope of the UNTOC.
Welcoming the new Resolution, CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: "Recognizing and addressing wildlife crime as a serious crime enables mobilizing important and powerful tools, such as those available through UNTOC, in international cooperative efforts to address the most serious forms of wildlife crime. These include amongst others, mutual legal assistance, extraditions, joint investigations, the use of specialized investigative techniques and asset forfeiture".
"The importance of UNTOC as a legal instrument to mobilize in the fight against wildlife crime is strongly recognized by CITES Parties, and in CITES Resolution Conf. 17.6 the Conference of the Parties to CITES requests the CITES Standing Committee to, with support from the CITES Secretariat, ensure close cooperation of CITES with UNTOC. The Resolution adopted at the tenth session of the Conference of the Parties to UNTOC further highlights the complementarity of both Conventions in the fight against wildlife crime", added Secretary-General Higuero.
Acknowledging the impacts of crimes that affect the environment on national economies and on global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the Resolution calls upon UNTOC Parties to redouble their efforts to deter, detect, investigate and punish these illegal activities. It also reaffirms UNTOC’s role as a powerful global instrument that offers a broad scope for cooperation to address existing and emerging forms of transnational organized crime, including crimes that affect the environment.
The Resolution calls upon Parties to implement legislation that will enable them to address wildlife crime that falls within the scope of UNTOC as a serious crime, as defined by UNTOC. It also encourages the implementation of effective risk-based anti-money laundering frameworks and calls upon Parties to mitigate corruption risks and scale up their efforts to combat corruption, which often enables the actions of transnational criminal groups involved in wildlife crime.
Moreover, the Resolution places strong emphasis on the need for further enhanced cooperation in efforts to address crimes that affect the environment, including wildlife crime. For example through interagency partnerships, such as the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, a powerful alliance between the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO), to strengthen criminal justice systems and provide coordinated support at national, regional and international level to combat wildlife and forest crime.