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Combating Transnational Wildlife Crime through collaboration


A new International entity touches down in The Hague


By Roy Lie A Tjam.

The Wildlife Justice Commission has been launched to convene sectors in the fight against transnational wildlife crime at the Academy Building of the Peace Palace on 2 October 2015.

The Wildlife Justice Commission hosted its first summit convening leading experts in financial and organized crime, economic development, governance and wildlife. The Summit’s main aim is to help further drive knowledge sharing to combat the exponential rise in wildlife crime.

Estimated at a value of $23 billion per year, illicit wildlife trade is orchestrated by sophisticated, transnational criminal networks and is closely associated with other serious crimes such as corruption, fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

“The complex nature of wildlife crime requires global collaboration in new and creative ways, across the known divides and silos,” stated Sam Muller, executive director of the Wildlife Justice Commission during the summit. “The Wildlife Justice Commission Summit brings together a diverse group of people to explore how we work more together to end the impunity that reigns in this area. We must disrupt the trade by making it less easy and lucrative.” The Wildlife Justice Commission’s approach to combatting wildlife crime is to work in complementarity with others – states, international organisations and civil society organisations.

The Summit, which appropriately was staged at the Peace Place in The Hague, analysed the many facets of wildlife crime. It also looked at the fact that wildlife crime destroys the rule of law and the social cohesion of entire societies. From this foundation, different strategies to deal with wildlife crime were examined, focusing in particular on accountability and ending impunity.

The Summit centered around a panel consisting of Serge Brammertz, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; Michael Wamithi, former CEO of the Kenya Wildlife Trust; Tom Keatinge, director of the Centre for Financial Crime & Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, UK; and His Royal Highness Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta of the Royal Establishment of Barotseland in Zambia.

The panel was moderated by Her Royal Highness Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands in her capacity as president of Flora and Fauna International. She commented: “The urgency of addressing this complex global problem cannot be underestimated. Wildlife populations are being decimated under our own eyes. Combining expertise across the globe is the only way forward. This important initiative provides the momentum we so need.”

“Like all organised crime, the illegal wildlife trade is about money,” said Tom Keatinge.

“Because financial crime and wildlife crime are so inextricably linked, banks and other financial sector participants can be valuable allies in disrupting illegal wildlife trade.”

The Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Sharon Dijksma, and Alderman of The Hague, Rabin Baldewsingh also attended the Summit. During the summit Minister Dijksma announced that wildlife crime is a major priority for her Ministry moving forward and that the Ministry has made a commitment to support the Wildlife Justice Commission through a substantial grant. “Wildlife crime is a major international priority. That’s why the Ministry will support the Wildlife Justice Commission financially and why we plan to host, in early 2016, a global conference focused on wildlife crime.”

About the Wildlife Justice Commission:

The Wildlife Justice Commission is an independent organization founded by the world’s leading criminal justice and wildlife experts. It aims to disrupt transnational wildlife crime networks by building cases against key perpetrators and holding local governments and law enforcement agencies accountable to take action. Based in The Hague, the Wildlife Justice Commission is currently funded through grants including those provided by the Dutch National Postcode Loterij, WWF Netherlands, Peace Parks Foundation and the city of The Hague.

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