The head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today stressed the need for a vigorous response to wildlife and forest crime, noting the growing threat the scourge poses to development worldwide.
"Wildlife crime undermines development and stability, and destroys ecosystems and legitimate livelihoods," UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in his opening remarks at the 23rd session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.
The session brings together around 800 representatives of Member States, civil society and the media to Vienna to discuss challenges in protecting people from crime and violence, such as human trafficking, the trafficking in cultural property as well as timber and forest products and violence against children.
The session will also feature the presentation of a study on the effects of new technologies on the abuse and exploitation of children, as well as a handbook on early access to legal aid.
Mr. Fedotov highlighted the global fight against wildlife and forest crime as a priority when it comes to strengthening regional cooperation and investigation.
"Given the increasing importance of wildlife and forest crime, and the pressing requests from Member States, UNODC intends to launch a vigorous and dedicated research and analysis effort on this issue," he said.
"Our aim is to help generate the systematic assessments that the international community needs to inform responses to this growing, global threat."
Mr. Fedotov's remarks touched on many of UNODC's mandates, including crime and development, the treatment of prisoners, violence against children, the rule of law, human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants.
"Underpinning all of these efforts, whether to combat wildlife crime or to stop trafficking and money laundering, is international cooperation in criminal matters," he stated, referring to the subject of this year's thematic discussion.
"In a globalized world characterized by an unprecedented level of connectivity, the increasingly transnational nature of crime has emerged as one of the key challenges countries face," said the Executive Director. "Modes of international cooperation in criminal matters must continuously evolve, to be faster, flexible and more responsive, to cope with new threats."
The week-long session of the Commission is expected to include over 40 high-profile side events, and the adoption of a series of resolutions on crime matters.