Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Statement delivered at the 13th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice,Wildlife and Forest Crime Side Event

13 Apr 2015

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and gentlemen [all protocols observed]

Wildlife poaching, the illegal extraction of timber and other forms of flora, and the related trafficking of wildlife products is a multifaceted global threat, with specific challenges in various regions and countries. These illegal flows have the potential to undo development gains, threaten livelihoods and national security, fuel conflict, feed corruption, and undermine prospects for achieving sustainable development. It is in effect the theft of a public good, whose causes and solutions are linked to broader issues of corruption, rule-of law and good governance, or lack thereof. Wildlife crime is a crime against development.

As our moderator remarked, the international community is being tested on its resolve. The challenge requires a strong response from the UN system to support countries and regions to develop the governance and institutional capacities needed to combat poaching, illegal extraction and trafficking and the associated corruption, collusion and criminality in source, transit, and demand countries. Illegal wildlife trade is driven by rising demand, and often facilitated by weak governance. It is not the result of a natural phenomenon like a drought or flood – it is the direct result of groups and individuals violating international agreements, particularly CITES, and domestic laws.

The 2013 ECOSOC Resolution on “Crime prevention and criminal justice response to illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora”, highlights the need to make illegal wildlife trade a “serious crime” and take corresponding steps to strengthen legislation and criminal justice systems. Corruption can be stopped by investigating, prosecuting and sentencing criminal actors. Addressing the proceeds of this crime and preventing money laundering is equally important. As Secretary-General Scanton just said, governments must deploy the same sorts of techniques used to combat other serious crimes, such as covert operations, controlled deliveries, and the use of modern forensics.

The fight against the illegal trade in wildlife needs to draw on an integrated approach that addresses issues of corruption at all levels. This is serious work for the entire UN System across the supply chain that drives the trade, addressing illegal supply, transit, and demand. Particular focus is needed on communities where site-level enforcement is key, linking a range of national stakeholders for more cohesive country-level action, and working with regional and international partners to coordinate global and intra-regional efforts.

Our response needs to build on a comprehensive governance and rule-of-law portfolio, as well as on extensive biodiversity and ecosystems work.

New projects are now being designed with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), many addressing illegal wildlife trade issues, including in Kenya and Mozambique. In Tanzania, which is suffering from wildlife poaching and illicit timber extraction, UNDP is working with the Government, sister agencies and partners on their national strategy to “Combat Poaching & Illegal Wildlife Trafficking”, launched last year.

Indeed, further work is needed at all levels to scale up the UN response, including through stronger South-South and Triangular cooperation.

Let me conclude by saying that the stakes are high and will not be fully apprehended until we declare that these serious crimes can only be curbed through a serious development effort, a wise mix of commitments to the integrity agenda and a comprehensive approach to sustainable development that protects the fragile ecosystems by providing economic opportunity to equally fragile local communities. A life of dignity for all is, ultimately, the best guarantee against wildlife and forest crime, and for wildlife preservation and sustainable forest management. Let’s get serious about it.

Source: General