The governments of the United States and Lao PDR presented a Multilateral Wildlife Trafficking Workshop in Vientiane from May 6-8. The Workshop included investigators and prosecutors from Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Ambassador Daniel A. Clune of the U.S. Embassy in Vientiane and Director General Khamphout Phandanouvong of the Lao Department of Forest Inspection opened the Workshop on May 6.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Clune highlighted the importance of the participants’ work. “Wildlife trafficking is a serious concern, with illicit proceeds estimated at $8-10 billion annually.”
“Increasingly, wildlife trafficking is intertwined with other illicit activities that undermine national security and economic prosperity. Combating wildlife trafficking requires collaborative actions and cooperation.”
The Laos Wildlife Trafficking Workshop is the third in a series of regional wildlife trafficking law enforcement workshops supported by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).
The first workshop was held in Bogor, Indonesia in May 2014; the second was held in Hanoi in November 2014. The workshops provide an opportunity for officials from participating countries to discuss policy, information sharing, and enforcement issues.
Ultimately, the workshop offers participants an opportunity to improve regional cooperation to combat wildlife trafficking and other illicit activities of transnational criminal organizations.
These workshops are just one aspect of the strengthened commitment of the United States to support efforts to stop wildlife trafficking and protect endangered species around the world. In July 2013, President Obama signed an executive order that resulted in the first U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The strategy incorporates the efforts of over 17 U.S. government agencies and sets three strategic priorities: strengthening enforcement, reducing demand, and building international cooperation.
“We’re proud to be able to work together with our Lao partners on endeavors such as these,” said Noah Geesaman, Acting Director for the INL Section at the U.S. Embassy.
“The Department of Forest Inspection has been extremely supportive,” he said. We hope that all of the participants will be able to use this three-day workshop to build a stronger network of partnerships across Southeast Asia, and that our nations can continue to work together against wildlife traffickers and transnational crime.”