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Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) Public Hearing: Viet Nam Investigation

14-15 November 2016 | The Hague, the Netherlands

Summary Highlights of Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) Public Hearing: Viet Nam Investigation

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Daily Web CoverageAbout | 14 Nov | 15 Nov | Summary
A View of the Peace Palace in The Hague, venue of the Public Hearing: Viet Nam Investigation (photo courtesy of the Peace Palace)

Highlights for Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The WJC Public Hearing reconvened today at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Participants first heard “a story from the field,” with Lawrence Munro, field operation manager of African Parks, sharing his experiences with what he called the “rhino war” in Kruger National Park, South Africa. He explained how, with 800 rhinos killed in the park each year, the field is an area of continuous conflict and violence, which is taking its toll on rangers and their families.

Participants then engaged in a discussion involving NGOs, IGOs and academic experts on various options to address illegal wildlife trade. Issues discussed included demand reduction, involving local communities, and innovative strategies to tackle the entire trade network. Speakers highlighted the need to enhance law enforcement through increased international collaboration and capacity building, including to combat corruption.

During a public discussion, participants addressed, among many other things: engagement with existing online action networks; tourism as a mechanism to effectuate change; diplomatic dialogue; ways to change mindsets throughout the trade chain; and future priorities for the WJC.

After some time of deliberation, the Accountability Panel presented its findings. Justice Philippe Kirsch, Former President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, said the Panel had unanimously concluded that the WJC Public Hearing constituted a “fair and neutral description of the facts.” Edgardo Buscaglia, Senior Scholar in Law and Economics at Columbia University, then presented several recommendations addressed to the Vietnamese government, international legal frameworks, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.

In closing the meeting, WJC Executive Director Olivia Swaak-Goldman said these recommendations are not the end of the process, noting there is still a long way to go to support the Vietnamese government to take the appropriate law enforcement action. She announced the WJC will continue its work to stimulate the international community to offer such support, and closed the meeting at 5:00 pm.

IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, has provided digital coverage and a summary report from the WJC Public Hearing: Viet Nam Investigation, which is available in HTML and PDF.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada Vigil
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Presentation of Accountability Panel Findings and Recommendations

Edgardo Buscaglia, Argentina/United States, Senior Scholar in Law and Economics at Columbia University, and President of the “Instituto de Acción Ciudadana para la Justicia y Democracia,” Mexico

Justice Philippe Kirsch, Canada, Former President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague; and Diego García-Sayán, Peru, Former President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

 

Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director, WJC

Rikkert Reijnen, Senior Project Lead Wildlife Trade and Elephants, IFAW; Annette Hübschle, University of Cape Town and senior research advisor Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime; and Director of Proceedings Ghida Fakhry


Debbie Banks, Environmental Investigation Agency; and Steve Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC International

Sarath Kotagama, Ecologist and Special Advisor, Ministry of Sustainable Development & Wildlife, Sri Lanka (video statement)

 

Rob Parry-Jones, Species Manager, WWF International

Gillian Dell, Head of Conventions, Transparency International

Misha Glenny, United Kingdom,
award-winning journalist and historian

Edgardo Buscaglia, Argentina/United States, Senior Scholar in Law and Economics at Columbia University, and President of the “Instituto de Acción Ciudadana para la Justicia y Democracia,” Mexico

Polly Higgins, Barrister, Earth Community Trust

Daniel Turner, Associate Director, Born Free Foundation

Around the Venue

Highlights for Monday, 14 November 2016

IISD Reporting Services - IGFThe first Public Hearing of the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) started today at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the Netherlands, focusing primarily on the wildlife trafficking hub Nhi Khe in Viet Nam.

Opening statements were made by Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director of the WJC, and Director of Proceedings Ghida Fakhry, former news anchor for Al Jazeera. Swaak-Goldman explained that the aim of this first-ever Public Hearing was to demonstrate the massive scale of the illegal wildlife trade in Viet Nam and make a convincing case for urgent and decisive action to prosecute the criminal networks involved. Fakhrey emphasized that the aim of the event is not to put Viet Nam on trial, but to encourage the competent authorities to act. She said the Hearing would also provide an opportunity for the WJC Accountability Panel to consider the body of evidence prepared by the investigative teams and would seek to show the response of the Vietnamese authorities.

After hearing presentations from various perspectives, including the source region and youth, participants started their examination of the Map of Facts that includes a 5,000 page case file presenting evidence of the illegal wildlife trade in Nhi Khe over the past year. Marcus Asner, Member of the WJC Advisory Council, gave a brief overview of this evidence, noting that investigative visits since 2015 had directly observed animal parts and products amounting to more than US$53 million, representing at least 400 rhinos, 570 elephants and 158 tigers. He noted that the teams had also encountered a sprawling and “surprisingly open” market in the village of Nhi Khe.

Four investigators then presented different components of the Map of Facts. The presentations took the form of a “cross-examination” with Asner posing questions to the witnesses. The evidence included a vast amount of photographs and videos, investigator statements and broader analysis and internet research. Participants also heard expert testimonies on the identification of animals and animal parts and on the global context of illegal trade, and heard a presentation on the response and position of the Vietnamese government.

IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, has provided digital coverage of the WJC Public Hearing: Viet Nam Investigation. A summary report will be available on Friday, 18 November 2016.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada Vigil
For photo reprint permissions, please follow instructions at our Attribution Regulations for Meeting Photo Usage Page

+ Visit the web coverage for Monday, 14 November 2016


Ghida Fakhry, former news anchor, Al Jazeera, and Director of Proceedings of the Public Hearing

Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director, WJC

 


Marcus Asner, Partner at Arnold & Porter LLPs and Member of the WJC Advisory Council

Pauline Verheij, senior legal investigator, WJC


Participants during the presentation of the Map of Facts


 

Daily Web CoverageAbout | 14 Nov | 15 Nov | Summary