INTERPOL and UNEP: United against environmental crime


The first international conference on environmental compliance and enforcement was held at the UNEP complex in Nairobi, Kenya on November 6, 2013, against the backdrop of the recent Africa - France Summit held at the Elysée on peace and security in Africa. Heads of State present at the Summit voiced their concerns in no uncertain terms about elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade which are crimes against the environment and are destabilizing countries’ internal security and seized the opportunity to condemn such actions.


Jointly organized by the Sub-Directorate for Environmental Security (NIS) of the INTERPOL General Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the conference attracted senior environmental law enforcement officials, including: representatives of non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector. It had three main objectives, namely: (1) to develop strategies to better tackle environmental crime in all its forms, (2) ensure that governments enforce laws and (3) raise public awareness of the threats posed by this type of crime.


At the end of the meeting which was replete with lessons and commitments, a final communiqué was prepared, in which participants concurred that:


♦ These crimes and other violations of environmental law undermine environmental sustainability, cause huge economic losses, threaten food security and livelihoods in severely affected areas, as well as good governance and peace in developing countries


♦  Environmental crime is increasingly being committed by well organized networks and is tied to other types of serious offenses and illegal activities. Considering the reach of the phenomenon, it can only be effectively tackled through the unified efforts of the international community, the police force and civil society.


To foster respect for the environment and law enforcement at all levels, and strengthen effective cooperation in the fight against environmental crimes and similar law violations, participants suggested 12 key ways of addressing the issue, namely:


1. Take measures jointly and immediately to close the gap between commitments such as those expressed in multilateral environmental agreements and effective law enforcement at national level;

2. Emphasize environmental law as a catalyst towards sustainable development combined with clear objectives to stem the most serious environmental law violations and strengthen the entire enforcement chain to effectively bridge the current compliance gap;

3. Foster stronger ties between UNEP as the leading UN body on the environment and INTERPOL which is the world’s largest international police organization and forge synergies between global environmental policy and law enforcement agencies;

4. Enhance knowledge on authors of environmental crime, the impact of their activities on security and sustainable development through joint evaluations and studies conducted by UNEP and Interpol;

5. Develop and improve prevention strategies through transparency and measures to combat corruption, reduce demand and deter crime;

6. Strengthen and boost environmental institutions and texts by supporting national governments in developing and implementing texts and instruments related to environmental law as well as civil and administrative sanctions;

7. Promote greater inter-agency cooperation and collaboration to ensure quick and safe exchange of quality intelligence between the police and communities in compliance with national and international law;

8. Enhance capacity building initiatives through training and technology transfer, to ensure greater respect for the environment and law enforcement;

9. Mobilize and increase financial assistance and technical expertise to enable countries, particularly developing countries, to effectively implement and ensure environmental compliance and enforcement;

10. Improve coherence and coordination of actions, while avoiding overlaps between relevant United Nations agencies and other international organizations working to promote environmental respect and compliance;

11. Call on the United Nations General Assembly and the INTERPOL General Assembly, both due in 2014, to launch a debate on environmental crime, in light of the grave impact of its illegal activities on environmental sustainability, sustainable development and global security.

12. Action Points:

(a) for the National Environmental Security Taskforce (NEST): promote a multidisciplinary approach to collaboration, communication and cooperation to overcome hurdles and harness opportunities at all levels;

(b) for information and intelligence assessment / Analysis: ease intelligence gathering and assessment to identify threats, transfer information, surveys to strengthen and expand existing databases into related crime areas;

(c) for the international capacity building platform: establish an international or regional capacity building platform to ease standardization of planning and sharing of intelligence and information;

(d). for the International Environmental Security Taskforce: establish an international taskforce to harmonize approaches for addressing environmental crime, strengthening the legislative / legal framework, networking countries and promoting inter-agency communication.


The full text of the final communiqué may be accessed HERE


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