Wildlife Crime Police Expand Scope

Here’s some new developments in international environmental law enforcement worth paying attention to.  First, earlier this month INTERPOL’s General Assembly voted unanimously in favor of a resolution encouraging greater global policing efforts to stem environmental crimes.  This may sound like diplo-speak for more nothing, but it is a necessary step to Interpol’s Environmental Programme moving forward.  I was at Interpol HQ for talks in Lyon, France earlier this year.  The program has a lot of potential and offers a fairly neutral forum to address transnational environmental crime, but it is so poorly funded it relies on a couple of NGOs for its budget.

The second development is the new International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) “eye-kwik,” which will bring together INTERPOL, CITES, World Customs, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank into a new effort.  These are key international institutions related to wildlife and crime but ICCWC is yet another committee and the word “wildlife” tends to yield next to no money/government commitment when it comes to crime.  It remains to be seen what the group will produce.  An alternative might have been to step up authority for INTERPOL’s environmental programme without creating a new entity. 

ICWCC is touted in this linked story as an alternative to ASEAN’s wildlife enforcement network, criticized here for not taking down the real Mister Bigs of SE Asia.  WEN could certainly do more, but it has made progress.  And that is more than most wildlife trade bodies can say. 

Check out Azrina Abdullah’s excellent comment below:

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “Wildlife Crime Police Expand Scope”

  1. Azrina Abdullah Says:

    The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) has been set up, which makes me wonder if these agencies have really thought things through. Granted I do not know the full details of this outfit but based on their press release, there’s some questions:

    1. Are they creating yet another competitor for funds to reduce wildlife trafficking? I know that Interpol, UNODC and CITES have limited funds, so how will they be operating? Donors funding enforcement work is few and far between – a case of adding more big fish to the shrinking pool?
    2. It looks like its trying to re-invent the wheel when what they should do is to assist existing organisations to improve (since ‘experts’ say that WEN is a failure).
    3. It said that the main problem is ‘intelligence sharing’ – this is an old age problem. Even with Interpol involved, it still has to rely on local police force to provide the information, and this goes for Customs too. I’d like to know how ICCWC is going to overcome this. Under WEN, there were task forces set up just like ICCWC with WCO, Interpol, CITES as members but it has problems because local intelligence was not being shared. There’s massive distrust among enforcement officers in the ASEAN region and after 5 years of WEN, this is still a major problem. Most of the seizures, arrests etc over the past year or so under WEN has been the result of the work by individual agencies in their respective countries and nothing to do with WEN, including the imprisonment of the kingpin himself, Anson Wong.
    4. How will ICCWC make wildlife trafficking as a priority for the 4 agencies (apart from CITES) when drugs, illegal arms, etc take priority hands-down everytime?
    5. Its yet another tiger focused alliance (based on its press release). WEN already has a task force on big cats – again this re-inventing of the wheel scenario, which will cause an overlap in efforts and fight for the same funding sources.
    6. Is their focus only on terrestrial wildlife? What about timber and fisheries? If this many international organisations are involved, its a shame if they only focus on tigers and a nothing else.