On 23 November 2020, we mark ten years since the establishment of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), the collaborative effort between the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO). These five inter-governmental bodies are collectively working through ICCWC to enhance capacity and bring coordinated support to national agencies responsible for wildlife law enforcement, and to sub-regional and regional networks, from around the globe, to combat wildlife crime.
"ICCWC partners, using a coordinated and cohesive approach, have played a critical role in assisting Parties globally to combat wildlife crime, providing them with the tools, services and technical support needed to mobilize the same measures against wildlife crime as those used against other serious domestic and transnational organized crimes," said CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero. "Parties are recognized for more effectively addressing wildlife crime in the past decade after benefitting from a range of initiatives designed to strengthen criminal justice system responses and build long-term capacity among authorities."
10 years, 10 achievements
ICCWC is celebrating its 10th anniversary under the theme "10 years, 10 achievements". In the past decade, ICCWC has supported countries in initiatives that have achieved a wide range of impactful outcomes:
- Increase in awareness of the scale and seriousness of wildlife and forest crime.
- Analysis of criminal justice responses to wildlife and forest crime.
- Global intelligence led operations disrupting and dismantling organized criminal groups.
- Implementation of anti-corruption measures to minimise the risk of corrupt practices.
- Strengthened cooperation between law enforcement authorities around the globe.
- Practical tools to support the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes.
- Capacity building and training resulting in enhanced skills of front-line wildlife crime investigators.
- Deployment of specialised teams to support national authorities.
- Specialized taskforces formulating strategies and strengthening collaboration to address wildlife crime.
- Anti-money laundering technical assistance to detect and prosecute wildlife crime related money laundering.
The Consortium was formally established in November 2010 upon the signing of a Letter of Understanding, and has been supporting Parties through various national, regional and global initiatives throughout the last decade. These included hands on support to frontline officers responsible for wildlife law enforcement, the coordination of global operations and intelligence driven investigations, comprehensive analysis of national responses to wildlife crime to identify gaps and ensure that they are addressed in a targeted manner by directing resources to where they are most needed, providing technical support to enhance the capacity of institutions across the entire criminal justice system, and developing and deploying a variety of flagship tools and services.
Here is a snapshot of what representatives from Parties and beneficiary agencies have had to say concerning combating wildlife crime, the work of ICCWC and how it contributed to capacity building and strengthened collaboration, in the global fight against wildlife crime:
- "The illegal trade is global. Every region is affected. To effectively combat wildlife crime, every country needs to take action collectively." Mr Pithaya Pookaman, Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand, said at the 2013 Roundtable on Combatting Organized Wildlife and Forest Crime for Ministers and High-level representatives organized by ICCWC.
- "This collaborative effort sends a strong message to wildlife traffickers that Sri Lanka is taking firm action against the illegal ivory trade. Our cooperation with INTERPOL collecting DNA evidence cannot be underestimated in its long-term consequences for elephant poaching networks." Mr Liyanage, Deputy Director of Sri Lanka Customs, said in response to an Investigative Support Team that was deployed within the framework of ICCWC to Sri Lanka in 2013, to provide authorities with technical assistance and equipment required to collect samples from seized ivory for forensic analysis.
- "This meeting provides Singapore an opportunity to work with the agencies to collectively identify the gaps in illegal transboundary trade of tortoise and freshwater turtles and explore ways to enhance enforcement to further the fight against wildlife crime." Ms. Tan Poh Hong, Chief Executive Officer, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), said at the 2017 Taskforce on Tortoises and freshwater turtles organized within the framework of ICCWC.
- "The significant support from the EU to ICCWC demonstrates its commitment to address wildlife and forest crime, which forms part of its policy designed to achieve the sustainable development goals. Trafficking can only be successfully curbed if tackled in a holistic manner, with particular emphasis on the links between conservation, development and security." Mr. Rodriguez Romero said, on behalf of the EU, at an ICCWC hosted side event held in the margins of the 69th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC69) in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2017.
- "The fight against elephant poaching and illegal trade in ivory will be won through concerted and integrated action, including through strong cooperation between range and destination States." HE Mr. Celso Correia, Minister of Land, Environment and Rural Development of Mozambique, sad at the 2018 ICCWC supported meeting of representatives of Parties concerned with the development and implementation of National Ivory Action Plans held in Maputo, Mozambique. "I had exchanged information on risks and arrests of each country. This meeting allowed transit or destination countries like ASEAN and China to be aware of the importance of wildlife trafficking and have better ideas on measures to be stricter in prevention and suppression." Customs Participant at an ICCWC supported Wildlife Inter-Regional Enforcement meeting in Kenya, in 2018.
- "The training course on controlled delivery was an eye opener, we were impressed by the use of available technology for tracking the package. With such advanced investigation techniques, we are now more confident in conducting a possible controlled delivery operation." Police participant at the Controlled Delivery Training organized within the framework of ICCWC, Viet Nam, 2019.
- "By bringing together representatives from around the world, we are creating a network of dedicated officials, committed countries and organizations, and regional WENs working together across the world toward our shared goals. Only by working together can we put a halt to this insidious crime." Ms. Marcia Bernicat, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, said at the 3rd Global meeting of WENs convened by ICCWC, Geneva, 2019.
Since its creation in 2010, the important role of ICCWC has been widely recognized. The number of activities being delivered under the auspices of ICCWC continues to expand, in response to a growing list of requests from countries. Building on the successes and lessons learned to date, ICCWC is in the process of developing the ICCWC Vision 2030, which will guide the work of the Consortium in the decade to come, as it continues to support the actions of Parties in their fight against wildlife.
The work of the Consortium over the past ten years would not have been possible without strong donor support. The work delivered by ICCWC has been possible through the generous funding support of previous donors and currently from the European Union, France, Germany, the Principality of Monaco, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America towards the ICCWC Strategic Programme 2016-2020.
Find out more about ICCWC and its tools and services: https://cites.org/eng/prog/iccwc_new.php