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Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

6th November 2017 Vienna, Austria

How to stop the illegal trade in wildlife – in Vienna

The pictures are grisly.  A black rhino lies slumped, its head a mass of blood and gore.  A rotting elephant carcass is hunched in the savannah, torn and ripped by scavengers.

What do such horrific images have to do with Vienna?

Vienna is the home of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UNODC – the United Nations agency charged with fighting corruption and transnational organised crime.  Both play a central role in the illegal wildlife trade which threatens species, communities and ecosystems world-wide.

So what can we do about it?

One of the keys to tackling illegal wildlife trade, known as IWT, is building up the international will to work together.  The UK sought to turbo-charge this process with a conference in London in 2014, followed by meetings in Kasane, Hanoi and now London again in October 2018.

The focus is on four “pillars”: eradicating the market for illegal wildlife (eg ivory or rhino tusks); building effective legal frameworks; strengthening law enforcement; and, vitally, supporting sustainable livelihoods and economic development.

UNODC, as the guardian of both the UN Convention on Anti-Corruption (UNCAC) and the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC), is a natural partner of choice to support implementation of the 2nd (legal framework) and 3rd (law enforcement) pillars.

That is why, on November 6, the UK hosted an event at the UN’s set piece conference on anti-corruption, drawing attention to the links between IWT and corruption.

That is why the UK financially supports UNODC’s IWT research programme, work that led to the UN publishing its first Wildlife Crime Report, released in 2016.

We look forward to the London IWT Conference on 11-12 October 2018.  We will continue to explore ways to use the United Nations institutions, including here in Vienna, to combat the International Wildlife Trade worldwide – and keep endangered species safe.

About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.