The role of “other” multilateral organizations

Aside from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife Fauna and Flora (CITES), prominent multilateral organizations are working to combat wildlife trafficking. These organizations include the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Customs Organization, and INTERPOL. Together with CITES, these five organizations established the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime. But first, how do these organizations address wildlife crime?

The United Nations, particularly its Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) addresses wildlife crime. In May 2014, UNODC formed the Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime (GP). The GP focuses on increasing capacity building and law enforcement capabilities—they primarily work with local, national and regional law enforcement organizations. The GP’s thematic areas include: increasing legal framework of nations, addressing wildlife supply and demand, increasing transnational law enforcement cooperation, strengthening domestic law enforcement capabilities, intelligence gathering, and increasing wildlife awareness.

Although the Global Programme is a newly established program, it is difficult to assess its success. However, the GP’s formation raises questions. Is the GP adequately funded? Or rather, does the GP have enough funding to successfully address its thematic areas? The GP is a four year program—is that enough time to successfully address its thematic areas?

Aside from the UNODC, INTERPOL’s Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee assists law enforcement official in information and intelligence gathering pertaining to wildlife crime. Unlike UNODC’s Global Programme, the Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee was established in 1992, without having a committee deadline. Since 2010, INTERPOL successfully led over fifteen operations with national governments in targeting wildlife crime and trafficking. For example, In 2012, INTERPOL successfully assisted Southeast Asian countries in addressing pangolin trafficking. Operation Libra resulted in recovering 1200 pangolins, as well arresting 40 suspects involved in pangolin trafficking.

Although INTERPOL is effective in assisting countries with law enforcement capacity building and information gathering, they do not have law enforcement capabilities. It is up to nations vulnerable to wildlife trafficking to take action against wildlife trafficking.

The World Customs Organization also addresses wildlife crime. The World Customs Organization consists of customs administrations throughout the world, with the primary focus of increasing the efficiency of these administrations. According to CITES, customs enforcers have the capacity to detain, seize, fine and investigate wildlife trafficking at the port of entry. In attempting to fulfill these capabilities in reducing wildlife trafficking, the World Customs Organization is committed in increasing the efficiency of customs administrations. Thus, the World Customs Organization supports the close cooperation of customs administrations, as well other law enforcement organizations.

Unlike INTERPOL and UNODC, the World Customs Organization is not focused on information gathering and capacity building, but rather, they work to increase international cooperation of customs administrations throughout the world. In the Declaration of the Customs Co-Operation Council on the Illegal Wildlife Trade of June 2014, the World Customs Organization seems to only have the role of encouraging, supporting, endorsing, acknowledging, urging, requesting, and advocating the increased role of custom authorities.

INTERPOL, UNODC, and the World Customs Organization focus on the law enforcement aspects of addressing wildlife trafficking. The World Bank takes a different stance. The countries prone to wildlife trafficking tend to be developing countries—and, the World Bank states that wildlife crime and other environmental crimes “…threaten ecosystems, food security, and livelihoods.” To address wildlife crime, the World Bank creates and finances projects to address these issues. There are over 39 wildlife-related projects, including the Protected Area and Wildlife Project. This project provides assistance to Laos in institutional strengthening, protecting wildlife areas, and capacity building.

Although World Bank projects may not have the capacity of information gathering, the World Bank can certainly provide financial support in capacity building, institution building of countries vulnerable to wildlife crime and trafficking. However, are these World Bank projects adequately funded in successfully implementing their projects? Together, CITES, UNODC, INTERPOL, World Customs Organization, and the World Bank form the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). The ICCWC is a fairly new organization that was established in 2010. As an umbrella organization, their objective is to address wildlife crime and to ensure the prosecution of those involved in wildlife crimes.

As a result, these five organizations can provide assistance and share information with one another while continuing their work on wildlife. Despite the comprehensive role of the ICCWC, can they successfully address their primary objectives? It is certainly ICCWC’s primary goal to combat wildlife crime. But it may not be INTERPOL, UNODC, WCO, or the World Bank’s primary interest. Additionally, these organizations could continue to face any roadblocks that hinder their ability to successfully combat wildlife crimes.

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