A High-Level Panel held during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly has called for UN action against illegal wildlife trade. The event, ‘Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking: A Multidimensional Crime and a Growing Challenge to the International Community,’ took place on 26 September 2013, and was convened by the Governments of Gabon and Germany. Illicit wildlife trafficking is increasingly conducted by sophisticated criminal networks, and is estimated to total US $19 billion per year, making it the fourth biggest illegal trade worldwide after drugs, arms and human beings. The event follows a recent resolution by the UN Crime Commission making illicit wildlife trafficking a serious crime.
Speaking at the event, President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, remarked that “Illicit wildlife crime is no longer a simple environmental problem. It is a transnational crime and a threat to peace and security on our continent.” He called for the appointment of a special UN envoy on wildlife crime and for an UN resolution, with support from Germany and the UK. The President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, called on the international community to curb demand by closing markets. Other panelists included: German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle; Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Jan Eliasson; and Director General of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), James Leape. The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, and the Secretary-General of the Economic Community of Central Africa States (ECCAS), Ahmad Allam-Mi, also spoke. The Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John Scanlon, moderated the discussion. Ministers and other high-level representatives from Chad, Columbia, Thailand, the UK and the US attended the event.