In 2022, ICCWC continued to play a critical role in assisting Parties globally to combat wildlife crime using a coordinated and cohesive approach and providing Parties with the tools, services and technical support needed to bring the criminals involved in wildlife crime to justice.
In November 2022, the 19th Meeting of the Conference of Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP19) took place over two weeks in Panama. At the CoP, ICCWC hosted three side events including ICCWC Operational Support, ICCWC Tools and Services and the Launch of ICCWC VIsion 2030. Read more.
Fourth Global Meeting of Wildlife Enforcement Networks (WENs)
The Fourth Global Meeting of Wildlife Enforcement Networks was held alongside the CITES CoP19. The meeting was convened by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), on behalf of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and with generous funding support from the U.S. State Department's Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Bureau. Representatives from established and developing networks from around the world, including wildlife law enforcement officers, international organizations and other relevant organizations will meet to share experiences and consider measures to further strengthen WENs, promote their operational effectiveness, and enhance cooperation and interaction. Read more.
ICCWC Vision 2030 - Towards a World Free of Wildlife Crime
The ICCWC Vision 2030 was launched at CITES CoP19. The Vision will guide the Consortium's work in the decade to come and follows a Theory of Change designed to support and strengthen entire criminal justice systems to ensure that they effectively respond to and address wildlife crime. Over the past decade, ICCWC has taken a leading role in providing coordinated global support to the law-enforcement community. Through the ICCWC Vision 2030 the Consortium will continue its work, working closely together pursuing a common vision of moving towards a world free of wildlife crime.
Operation Thunder 2022
Backed by ICCWC, Thunder Operations are an annual global crackdown that take place across borders to combat wildlife and forest crime. The joint operation coordinated by ICCWC Partners, INTERPOL and WCO, brought together police, customs, financial intelligence units, wildlife and forestry enforcement agencies from 125 countries - the largest number of countries to take part in a Thunder operation since the series started in 2017.
In 2021, ICCWC continued to convene activities online in order to provide continued support to Parties through the COVID-19 pandemic which had limited in-person capacity-building opportunities and meetings. This support included aligning ICCWC responses to emerging challenges identified during the pandemic.
In October 2021, INTERPOL and WCO coordinated Operation Thunder 2021, the fifth in the Thunder-series of operations supported by ICCWC. The Operation involved officers from customs, police, financial intelligence units and wildlife and forestry enforcement agencies in 118 countries. Similar to operations in previous years, Operation Thunder 2021 resulted in a significant number of seizures and arrests. Further arrests and prosecutions are also foreseen globally as investigations continue to unfold.
In 2020, ICCWC adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and continued to provide targeted law enforcement support, working along the entire criminal justice chain to help governments deter, detect, detain and dismantle criminal networks involved in wildlife crime. With in-person meetings limited and new protection protocols in place, ICCWC shifted some of its activities online to provide continued support to Member States. Operation Thunder 2020 was coordinated virtually, via secured communication and reporting channels. Despite the global sanitary situation and existing restrictions, the law enforcement community demonstrated a sound commitment to Thunder 2020, with outcomes and participation comparable to previous years. ICCWC also helped Member States assess and address emerging trends and challenges in wildlife crime brought on by the pandemic. It undertook important wildlife crime research, developing guides and training modules in response to Member States needs in the fight against wildlife crime.
In 2019, ICCWC continued to expand its activities, including through its global network of regional and country offices, to support the efforts of frontline officers from national agencies responsible for wildlife law enforcement. Working directly for and with these authorities, ICCWC partners supported them by building long-term capacity and providing the tools, services and technical support required to effectively respond to wildlife crime. As a direct result of ICCWCs work, national authorities are in a strengthened position to increasingly respond to wildlife crime. The following is a snapshot of those activities.
Cooperation across and between law enforcement authorities around the globe was strengthened and key skills and knowledge were built, including through hands on real time support during global enforcement operations, the promotion of exchange of information, and engagement with wildlife enforcement networks. Regional challenges and responses to wildlife crime were explored at INTERPOLs first Annual Meeting on Wildlife Trafficking in Central and West Africa (Cameroon), identifying regional trends, and laying the foundation for increasing operational activities in the region.
Capacity building initiatives were successfully continued across Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, enhancing the skills and knowledge of front-line wildlife crime investigators to respond to wildlife crime as serious organized crime. Knowledge was built concerning advanced investigation techniques targeting wildlife crime syndicates, covering matters such as controlled deliveries, financial investigations and covert surveillance operations.
ICCWC also provided support to national authorities in response to large-scale ivory and pangolin scales seizures, with specialist support teams deployed to Ha Noi, Vietnam, working in coordination with customs and police, and supported by the INTERPOL National Central Bureau, to identify suspects, and profile additional incoming shipments, with further interceptions. In Kampala, Uganda, a support team, working with national authorities, assisted in the seizure of over 750 pieces of ivory and 400 kilograms of pangolin scales.
Across 2018 and 2017, ICCWC focused closely on cooperation, collaboration and communication, and the criticality of enhancing a cohesive joint response to the transcontinental element of wildlife crime.
Law enforcement authorities across Africa and Asia strongly benefited from a series of workshops, strengthening key skills and know-how on the detection, interception, investigation and prosecution of wildlife crime through the development and use of risk indicators, the promotion of exchange of information, and financial investigation best practices. The Africa-Asia Wildlife Inter-Regional Enforcement (WIRE) Meeting (Kenya); the meeting of representatives of Parties involved in the development and implementation of National Ivory Action Plans (NIAPs) (Mozambique), and the Regional Investigative and Analytical Case Management (RIACM) meeting for NIAP Parties, collectively enhanced the position of law enforcement authorities to more effectively respond jointly in a cohesive manner to wildlife crime.
Taskforces driven by ICCWC also played a critical role in building knowledge across species specific wildlife crime areas, as well as enhancing information and intelligence sharing, strengthening frontline cooperation and coordination, such as the CITES Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles Task Force (Singapore), which developed strategies to strengthen CITES implementation and law enforcement responses to combat illegal trade in tortoises and freshwater turtles and their parts and derivatives.
ICCWC was born!
A more detailed overview of the ICCWC activities conducted to date can be found in the following CITES reports.