For information only - not an official document

6 November 2017

Remarks of the Executive Director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov:

Special event on "The elephant in the room: addressing corruption linked to wildlife crime

6 November 2017

VIENNA, 6 November 2017 (UN Information Service) - My thanks for coming to this important discussion.

I am also very glad that my colleague John Scanlon, Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is with us today.

The importance of stopping wildlife and forest crime has been widely recognized by three General Assembly resolutions and by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNODC released the first World Wildlife Crime Report last year to assess the situation and support global responses to poaching and trafficking.

The report confirms the global scale of wildlife and timber trafficking, with billion-dollar legal markets and industries being used to launder illegally sourced wildlife.

This event today seeks to address the elephant in the room, without which the criminal exploitation of wildlife, forest and fisheries resources could not persist and profit.

Namely, corruption.

The World Wildlife Crime Report clearly identifies corruption as one of the major facilitators of poaching and trafficking.

The international illicit trade in live great apes would not be possible without corruption.

Corruption, not conflict, is the primary enabler of African elephant poaching in conflict zones.

Corruption is multi-faceted and can occur at every stage of the wildlife, forestry and fisheries value chain. 

It can include bribes for information on the movement of animals or patrols. Or to obtain rights and quotas, or grease the wheels of shipments, to ensure that they are not inspected or seized.

Corruption is a crime in itself but it is also the facilitator of so many other crimes.

CITES, at its last Conference of Parties, passed a detailed resolution on corruption linked to the international trade in wildlife and wildlife products.

UNODC, as guardian of the UN conventions against corruption and transnational organized crime, is working with partners including CITES to build understanding and ensure that wildlife, forest and fisheries agencies are trained and equipped to respond to corruption.

Looking forward, it is crucial that we bring on board anti-corruption bodies and other relevant agencies.

The issue is too big to be dealt with by wildlife and fisheries management authorities alone.

Multi-jurisdiction, multi-agency taskforces, including anti-corruption bodies, are the only way we can end impunity and ensure that the real crime bosses responsible are brought to justice.

This event is a good opportunity to advance efforts to protect natural resources and safeguard livelihoods.

We need to act now.

I wish you fruitful discussions. Thank you.  

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For further information contact:

Katharina Goetze
Information Officer, UNIS Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4949
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-4949
Email: katharina.goetze[at]


David Dadge
Spokesperson, UNODC
Phone: (+43 1) 26060-5629
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: david.dadge[at]