U.S. Closing Statement at the Third Global Meeting of Wildlife Enforcement Networks

Statement by Ambassador Marcia Bernicat,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs

Closing Session, Third Global Meeting of Wildlife Enforcement Networks

Thursday, August 22, 2019
Geneva

Good afternoon.  It is great to see you all again.  Thank you again to ICCWC, CITES, and Ivonne Higuero for your partnership in bringing together this Third Global Meeting of Wildlife Enforcement Networks.

Over these two days, the presentations, discussions, and questions raised remind us how difficult it can be to combat the serious crime of wildlife trafficking, but also inspiring moments to remind us that cooperation can lead to tremendous results.

Yesterday was devoted to revising, refining, and strengthening the “Guidelines for Establishing and Strengthening WENs.”  We were impressed and heartened by the open, enthusiastic, and engaged conversations yesterday.  Thank you, to everyone in this room, for sharing your expertise and lessons learned to help produce a toolkit that networks around the world will be able to apply.

Today, many speakers highlighted new tools, methods, and approaches for combating wildlife trafficking globally.  From the ICCWC toolkit, to the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Attaché Program, I hope you have learned something new about the tools and initiatives that you and your WEN can connect with to better fight wildlife trafficking.

I want to emphasize a few insightful messages from the conversations these past two days:

o   We heard a clear call to “use what’s already there” – to strengthen communication channels within your networks.

o   There is a need to enhance visibility on transboundary cooperation on cases made possibly by WENs.  Talk about these cases, especially with us!

o   And I would encourage you to look for opportunities to engage with each other, including, for example, through the Interpol Wildlife Crime Working Group.

Regional cooperation is essential to combating wildlife trafficking effectively since so much of what we are facing is transboundary crime.  As I mentioned yesterday, the United States considers wildlife law enforcement networks and cooperation mechanisms to be pivotal to our collective efforts to combat wildlife trafficking.

While the United States has been instrumental in promoting WENs, we believe the WENs work best when they reflect the priorities, approaches, and needs of countries in the respective regions.  I am proud of the representatives of many organizations who have spoken up in the working groups and on this stage these past two days to thoughtfully share their priorities, approaches, and needs.  My delegation has listened carefully and we want to help you achieve your priorities.

Our meeting here, in parallel with the CITES Conference of Parties, provides a platform to reach many eager listeners, who will also be ready to hear your collective messages on priorities and needs and who will also want to offer their support.

I thank and congratulate the participants in this meeting for your efforts to strengthen the regional WENs and the global community of WENs, all aimed at our ultimate goal of ending wildlife trafficking. WENs are more than just the sum of their organizations, and global cooperation among WENs and regions is what we need to succeed.

I would also thank ICCWC and would note how very pleased we have been, and continue to be, to partner with ICCWC.  Like the WENs, the Consortium is more than the sum of its five organizations:  it offers coordinated support to the national wildlife law enforcement agencies and to the sub-regional and regional networks that protect wildlife on a daily basis, and it offers a unique pool of technical and programming expertise to address the multi-faceted challenges posed by wildlife crime.  We look forward to our continued collaborations.