The Senior Experts Group of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) met last week at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria.
Opened by Mr Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, the meeting provided an opportunity for specialized staff of the five partner agencies to plan ICCWC activities in the short and mid-term.
Experts agreed to develop a comprehensive programme of work. This programme will exploit the expertise of the agencies and target organized crime associated with the illegal trade in endangered species. Whilst some efforts may be designed around the trade in high-profile species, such as elephants, rhinoceros, snow leopards and tigers, the Consortium’s activities will not be only species-specific. Similarly, although some specific trafficking routes, such as those from Africa to Asia, will receive special attention, ICCWC will operate at a global level.
The Consortium committed to the following in 2011:
- A senior-level seminar involving Customs and the police from the 13 countries in Asia where tigers are still found in the wild;
- Supporting the CITES Ivory and Rhinoceros Enforcement Task Force in bringing together law enforcement officials from countries affected by illegal trade in elephant and rhinoceros parts and products, to design strategies to combat such trade and facilitate the exchange of intelligence about those involved;
- Providing training support to officials in the recently-established South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network; and
- Completing a toolkit on Wildlife and Forest Crime, which countries can use to review their current response to such crimes (noting 2011 is the International Year of Forests).
The largest project for 2011, however, will be a programme to establish Controlled Delivery Units in countries affected by trafficking in wildlife, especially illegal logging. In a pilot phase, this will offer capacity building to Customs, the police and prosecutors from about 20 countries in Africa and Asia, so that they can quickly respond to illegal shipments that are detected whilst being transported from one country to another, and one continent to another. The project will also seek to guide national law enforcement agencies to follow the money throughout the criminal chain, targeting the profits of organized crime groups and networks.
John M. Sellar, Chief of Enforcement Support in the CITES Secretariat, who chaired the ICCWC meeting, said: “The senior experts are excited by the opportunities that the Consortium provides to help countries bring to justice those criminals who seek to rob countries of their natural resources and exploit local communities in some of the world’s poorest nations. ICCWC is an unprecedented attempt to ‘mainstream’ the fight against wildlife crime, by interacting with relevant officials throughout the whole criminal justice system. CITES is proud and honoured to be collaborating with colleagues from international intergovernmental organizations, who bring decades of experience and who are respected worldwide in their specialized fields of work.”
Launched during the International Tiger Forum, held in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, in November 2010, ICCWC brings together the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, UNODC, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization.
For more information on the Senior Experts Group meeting, go to the UNODC website.