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 12 Jannuary 2001

Yury Fedotov: Video Statement on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Timber for the United Nations Environment Assembly

Yury Fedotov

Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Video Statement on the Illegal Trade in Wildlife and Timber for the United Nations Environment Assembly

Nairobi, Kenya, 23-27 June 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for this opportunity to address you via video message.

Wildlife and Forest Crime is devastating our planet’s biodiversity by promoting widespread corruption and encouraging instability. Throughout the world, wildlife has been trapped, gunned down, poisoned or even slaughtered while forests are stripped of their trees. To provide some facts in support of this, 22,000 wild elephants are killed yearly in Africa; only 3000 tigers are left in the wild while 110 of them are killed each year, and just 25,000 rhinos are left. These crimes are driven by the desire of poachers and traffickers for profits that can be laundered back into many other crimes such as human trafficking. Wildlife crime is valued between eight to ten billion US dollars every year while timber trafficking from South-East Asia to the European Union alone is valued at 3.5 Billion US Dollars. If this tragic cycle is to be broken, we must act quickly and decisively since some endangered species are already standing on the edge of oblivion.

I suggest three critical areas that deserve our full attention.

First, together with other partners of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, we must compliment essential conservation efforts by strengthening our integrated law enforcement approach. This means encouraging nations to do the following based on the UN Convention on Transnational Organized

Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption:

  1. Treating Wildlife and Forest Crime as serious crimes.
  2. Addressing deficiencies in Legislations that prevent persecution
  3. Delivering training for law enforcement, prosecution services, and the Judiciary
  4. Developing greater co-operation and co-ordination in more countries
  5. Seizing the criminal’s assets and profits

Second, we must challenge the demand for wildlife and timber products by raising awareness among governments, civil societies, and ordinary consumers. Myths about health and medicine need to be replaced by science-based facts. We must also engage with young people to help prevent them from becoming the next generation of consumers.

Third, these crimes have a powerful developmental dimension. Too often, vulnerable communities are involved at source in these crimes because they have a few economic opportunities. As the International community moves forward with the post-2015 development agenda, we need to continue with the vital work of building prosperity where presently there is only poverty and inequality. Such efforts are also part of the overall efforts to eliminate wildlife and forest crimes. As part of this response, UNODC is forging ahead with its plans in partnership with its partners.

We are using analytical wildlife tools already in Bangladesh, Peru, Gabon, and Nepal. We are developing good practices for DNA and other forensic identification techniques. We are also holding workshops for ant-money laundering techniques, focusing on the analysis of wildlife and forest crime. Just recently, we launched our new global program for combating wildlife and forest crime. UNODC will continue to do more in the future. Success can only come through joint response that integrates our competencies through greater co-operation and coordination.

I thank you.