Following are Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the High-level Event on Illicit Wildlife Trafficking, in New York on 26 September:
I welcome this important discussion and I am grateful to the Governments of Gabon and of Germany, who are providing the driving force behind this initiative. Illicit wildlife trafficking represents a criminal trade of billions of dollars each year. It is a threat to people and to the planet’s resources.
Key species are being driven to extinction. The proceeds of illegal trade support transnational organized crime and terror organizations. Murder and violence go hand in hand with this despicable business. The illegal trade in wildlife and endangered species is linked to drug smugglers, gun runners and human trafficking. It is a threat to all three pillars of our Organization: human rights, peace and security, and development.
Fragile and conflict-affected States are particularly vulnerable because they lack the means to adequately regulate the exploitation of natural resources and control borders. For example, the Lord’s Resistance Army is known to be engaged in the illegal ivory trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The illicit gain it generates is sustaining conflict.
The Secretary-General has identified poaching as a major national and subregional security concern for the Central African region. The Security Council has also spoken out. The illegal ivory trade has doubled since 2007. Some consignments seized by authorities have contained tusks from hundreds of elephants.
The most recent data suggests that over 25,000 African elephants were killed in 2011. Preliminary studies for 2012 show a similarly bleak figure. Scores of elephants were recently poisoned at a water hole in Zimbabwe. And rhinoceros poaching in South Africa has reached record levels, driven by demand from middle-class consumers, primarily in Asia. More....