UN to launch campaign vs illegal trade

Posted on April 08, 2013

TOURISM AND crime agencies of the United Nations (UN) have announced plans to launch a public awareness campaign later in the year in a bid to reduce demand for illicit goods and services that fund transnational organized crime.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have agreed to the joint campaign during the Spring Meeting of the Executive Board of the UN in Madrid.

“The campaign will encourage tourists to make informed decisions and help reduce demand for trafficking in persons, cultural artifacts, wildlife, fauna and flora such as ivory products, as well as counterfeit goods, and illicit drugs,” the UNWTO and UNODC said in a statement on Friday.

Tourists, now reaching more than one billion each year, must be aware of the types of illicit goods and services to “sever financial arteries that fuel these forms of illicit trade,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in the statement.

Recent reports in the Philippines show that illegal trade of wildlife is a growing concern, including that of endangered species of lizards from Cebu and ivory trade with the country as transshipment point.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, for its part, has reported continuing buy-bust operations of syndicates dealing with methamphetamine hydrochloride locally called ice or shabu.

“The campaign drives the message that while some products may seem harmless, (their demand can) have devastating effects on the lives of innocent people, on wildlife or on cultural property,” the UN bodies explained in the statement.

The UN campaign will seek support from the global tourism sector through the participation of hotel chains, travel agencies and airlines.

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said in the statement: “The infrastructure of tourism -- from accommodation establishments to transportation networks -- can be misused by traffickers... Tourism has the potential and is firmly committed to reclaim this same infrastructure and use it in the fight against trafficking.”