International Peace Institute

Poaching Is Threat to International Peace and Security

At “Poaching is a Threat to International Security,” a policy forum held at the International Peace Institute on June 20th, 2013 in connection with UN security council discussion on the impact of natural resources on violent conflict, Brookings Scholar Vanda Felbab-Brown discussed the complex connections between wildlife poaching and security conflicts around the world. She argued that wildlife trafficking involves many different types of actors, and is not limited solely to illicit crime organizations or militant groups even though they are increasingly prominent players. Rather, in some parts of the world, wildlife is viewed purely in consumptive terms and both hunting and consumption are culturally engrained. In the context of poverty, wildlife poaching and trafficking can be the only available mechanisms of social mobility, even as they have disastrous environmental consequences. Beyond the highly negative ecological consequences and fueling of violent conflict, wildlife trafficking also threatens public safety by enabling the spread of dangerous zoogenic diseases. At the same time, in many of the world’s sensitive ecological hotspots, law enforcement against environmental crimes is given the lowest priority and is pervaded by corruption, with law enforcement officers and government officials directly participating in wildlife trafficking. Thus merely intensifying the level of law enforcement will not produce the desired results unless corruption and incentive structures for wildlife officers are also addressed. It is equally critical to wean local communities from dependence on poaching as a source of their economic livelihood and social mobility, as difficult as that is, and to greatly intensify efforts to reduce demand for wildlife products, including importantly in East Asia.

Watch the event »