By Carey L. Biron
Environment groups are applauding a new United Nations decision to officially characterise international wildlife and timber trafficking as a serious organised crime, in a move that advocates say will finally give international law enforcement officials the tools necessary to counter spiking rates of poaching.
Crimes related to the trafficking of flora and fauna are today one of the most significant money-makers for criminal networks, amounting to some 17 billion dollars a year, according to some estimates. That would make this black market the fourth-largest transnational crime in the world, according to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington watchdog group.3
On Friday, a new resolution on the issue was adopted almost unanimously at the end of a summit of the U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ, often called the U.N. Crime Commission). The resolution, put forward by the United States and Peru, now urges member states to formally view the illicit trade in wild flora or fauna as a "serious crime".
"It is commendable that the U.N. CCPCJ is now taking note of wildlife crime," Peter Paul van Dijk, director of the tortoise and freshwater turtle conservation programme at Conservation International, an international network, told IPS.
"This demonstrates how wildlife crime is no longer perceived as a proportionally minor type of crime affecting specific species, but is now beginning to be understood as being symptomatic of underlying problems of natural resource security, governance and transparency, and ineffective international actions." More....