New and improved system to combat illegal wildlife trade unveiled

Sunday, June 3, 2007
The Hague, Netherlands
The United Nations University, with the support of IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org), unveiled a new and innovative system designed to combat wildlife crime. The Wildlife Enforcement Monitoring System (WEMS) system, having successfully completed its pilot phase this month, seeks to complement and enhance the capacities of Interpol’s information-sharing database, Ecomessage.
WEMS works by collecting, compiling, analyzing and disseminating on a global scale the information it collects on wildlife crime.  In contrast to the Interpol system, which acts as a central database for official information submitted by national enforcement authorities, the WEMS system relies on information provided by private organizations.  Additionally, while Interpol’s information is shared exclusively with national enforcement officials, WEMS works to elevate public awareness by disseminating selected information it collects to the public-at-large.  Most significantly, however, WEMS quantifies the illegal wildlife trade, something that has never been done before.
 
“This project is going to answer the current problems in information collection, dissemination and analysis, says Remi Chandran, Research Associate, Office of the Rector, UNU.  It will make the work of enforcement officers and policymakers easier by facilitating the coordination of the various national arms of law enforcement with  national CITES agencies.  Quantifying levels of wildlife crime has never before been possible, to date.
 
Says Peter Younger, Criminal Intelligence Officer with the Wildlife Crime working group at Interpol, “The WEMS project highlight’s the invaluable role of enforcement in combating wildlife crime, and offers us a promising model for consideration as we look for solutions to fight illegal wildlife crime.”
 
Officials representing WEMS assert that the system will simplify the process of reporting, create a new level of transparency, enhance the exchange of communication across cultures and languages, and empower civil society in its efforts to combating transboundary wildlife crimes.
 
“We are encouraged by this very important project to monitor the illegal trade in wildlife and look forward to WEMS’ support to the relevant organizations such as ICPO Interpol in their joint efforts to investigate the offenders,” says Yuki Sakamoto, Chair of Asian Conservation Alliance, one of the supporters of the pilot phase of the project. 
 
The unveiling of WEMS comes at a particularly critical time, as enforcement matters are central to the deliberations at this year’s CITES CoP. 

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