Mr. Chairman, thank you for the floor. The United States looks forward to working under your able leadership to achieve substantive progress at this UN Crime Commission. [I also extend our sympathy to the people of China after the earthquake in Sichuan province.]
This year, the Commission has been tasked with examining crimes “that have a significant impact on the environment.” Such terminology, however, does not convey the magnitude of the crimes, nor does it address the global reach of the criminal organizations engaged in environmental crime. Illegal trade in wildlife alone amasses profits of about $10 billion each year. The illicit trade is intertwined with corruption, money laundering, and the trafficking of other commodities such as weapons and narcotics. Mr. Chairman, as you noted, it undermines security, stability, and the rule of law. The criminals that illegally poach and trade in wildlife are part of integrated networks that span continents. They devastate local communities, and have pushed more and more species toward extinction. Two of the starkest examples are the ongoing slaughter of elephants and rhinos. If we do not act now, we could see these species extinct in the wild in less than a decade.
The international community has begun to respond to the challenge. Most recently, in 2012, leaders within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group and the East Asia Summit committed to strengthening efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and to take meaningful steps to address this issue. It is time for the UN Crime Commission to make these same commitments.
To help stop wildlife crime, the United States, jointly with Peru, is sponsoring a resolution at this year’s Commission to strengthen criminal justice and coordinated law enforcement responses to this insidious crime. My government believes that global action is critical to disrupt the illicit networks involved and the corruption that enables wildlife trafficking. The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the UN Convention against Corruption are important tools which can be used to enhance international cooperation among states to pursue traffickers and dismantle their criminal organizations.
The United States looks forward to working cooperatively with other delegations this week to negotiate a text that we can all support. We also invite all Commission participants to attend a U.S.-sponsored side-event on combating wildlife crimes, scheduled to take place today at 1:10 pm.
Mr. Chairman, I would now like to turn my remarks to another important topic before us this week – cybercrime. The United States believes that training and technical assistance to improve national legislation and build cyber enforcement capacity remains a priority for the international community. Resources and expertise in this area are finite. The international community should focus its efforts on building capacity, rather than remaining enmeshed in a long debate over whether we need new global legal instruments. Representatives from each of the regional groups have stated their strong support for capacity building and technical assistance, including for UNODC’s positive role. Let us use this area of broad support to move forward with urgently needed technical assistance.
The United States is prepared to do its part. We are pleased to be among the first countries to support UNODC’s Global Program for cybercrime training and technical assistance. The United States will also host a side-event tomorrow [Tuesday, April 23] at 1:10 pm to share its experiences with regard to cybercrime capacity building. We invite all delegates to attend. We also look forward to hearing views of other delegations on how to broaden and strengthen capacity building efforts.
In closing, the United States would like to recognize UNODC for its important work and its substantial accomplishments. The organization continues to serve as an effective partner in the delivery of a broad array of technical assistance and capacity building programs to strengthen law enforcement and criminal justice institutions. The United States provided over $47 million to UNODC in 2012, and we are committed to sustaining our partnership with the organization in 2013.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak. The United States looks forward to a productive week.