News

Human trafficking in Sahel, Balkans and Vietnam: An insight

December 04, 2019

Human trafficking is much more complicated and nuanced picture than its common representations. Victims move through multiple categories along their journey and at their destination, shifting from smuggled migrant to trafficking victim and back again several times. It is also used by everything from facilitators, sympathisers to organised crime, exploited by militant groups and even partially weaponised by state actors. Drawing on field research in source, transit and destination countries, the authors analyse trafficking from four countries: Albania, Eritrea, Nigeria and Vietnam. The highly informative and unusual book includes RHIPTO staff and maps.

Crime-terror nexus: New trends

November 06, 2019

RHIPTO staff presented and contributed to the debate on the role of organized crime in threat finance to terrorism in the Berlin Conference "Re-examining the (organized) crime-terror nexus: Current debates, trends and responses on 6 November 2019. The meeting was organized by Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, the German Institute for International and Security affairs and the Center for Peace Operations.
 

Atlas Mondial des Flux Illicites - World Atlas in French

September 12, 2019

The World Atlas of Illicit Flows - Atlas Mondial des Flux Illicites - is now available in a new updated English and French version. The Atlas, which was presented in the UN Security Council and was prepared by RHIPTO, INTERPOL and GI - Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, has received global interest as the most comprehensive overview of the role of transnational organised crime in funding and feeling terrorism and conflicts worldwide. The atlas is derived from and depicts over 1,000 smuggling routes and is one of the most consolidated releases of sanitised criminal intelligence on threat finance to date.

UN Security Council: Strengthen intelligence to prevent terrorists and armed groups benefitting from organized crime

July 18, 2019

The UN Security Council passed a groundbreaking resolution S/Res 2482, promoted by Peru and with support from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, requesting member states worldwide to strengthen efforts to prevent armed groups and terrorists from benefitting from organised crime. Item 2 requests that member states strengthen intelligence efforts on the nexus of organised crime and terrorism, while items 13 and 14 particularly adresses the role of environmental crimes, minerals, specifically gold, but also oil, wildlife, and charcoal and timber, highlighting key messages from the RHIPTO-INTERPOL-GI World atlas of illicit flows.

Norway and Nordic countries in UN Security Council: Target illicit financial flows to terrorist groups

July 08, 2019

Ambassador Mona Juul presented on July 9th in the UN Security Council a statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway in the Open Debate on linkages between international terrorism and organized crime, 9 July 2019. The presentation used, among other, information from RHIPTO and INTERPOL from the World Atlas of Illicit Flows. The statement provided direct linkages and stressed that more active measures were needed in order to identify and stop illicit financial flows to terrorist organisations and criminal networks, disrupt the links between organised crime and terrorism. "We must combine measures targeting the profits from crime with measures targeting financial flows to terrorists".

New record: Global money laundering 1.7-4.2 trillion USD in 2018

June 27, 2019

The Munich Security Conference, a key security convener of heads of state, released today in Abuja, Niger at the ECOWAS summit a new report with "renowned partners including the United Nations, the OECD, Interpol, and RHIPTO. The report features exclusive maps that showcase the convergence of terrorism and conflict with gold mining and smuggling in Trans-Saharan Africa and in Latin America.  Illicit annual exports from extractive industries in Africa account for at least USD 31 to 98 billion, compared to USD 32 to 62 billion from Latin America, with companies typically paying only 0 to 4 percent tax on official amounts.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime, INTERPOL and RHIPTO sign framework agreement

June 26, 2019

Today, UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime), INTERPOL - The Worlds largest international police organisation with 194 member states and RHIPTO signed a formal indefinite Framework agreement for Implementation and coordination to a Law Enforcement Assistance programme to combat illegal deforestation worldwide. The programme has a clear operational focus, involving direct assistance to intelligence, operations, financial disruption, investigation and prosecution.

The Sahel: New times, new opportunities

May 13, 2019

The Sahel countries are witnessing for the first time in 70 years a series of successes in spite of security challenges: Over 32 million ha of drylands planted and restored, more than a thousand solar mini-grids built supplying electricity to oases and towns across the region and a mining sector on the rise supplying jobs and revenues. The regions positive development is however threatened by security threats, including from organized crime and terrorist groups, such as the rising spillover from Mali into Burkina Faso to extort gold miners. Continuing support to the Sahel region on development and security works and need to be strengthened further the report concludes. RHIPTO and African Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development produced the outlook with funding from UNDP.

Pence, Lavrov, Merkel and Solberg in Munich Security Conference

February 10, 2019

RHIPTO maps and RHIPTO-INTERPOL data on funding of non-state armed groups in the Trans-Sahara, Africa and the Gulf were highlighted amongst the top 13 features and data from the Global Munich Security Conference 2019 synthesis. The conference, hosted amongst other by the german Government, MoD and the European Commission is attended by 30 heads of state and over 100 ministers. Also participating are Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg,  Christine Lagarde, Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, Acting President of the World Bank, Jürgen Stock, Secretary General of Interpol, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah as-Sisi, Yang Jiechi, Member of the 19th Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroschenko, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Norwegian PM Erna Solberg and Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen participated from Norway.

Ibrahim Thiaw briefs UN Security Council on Sahel

December 19, 2018

Today, The UN Secretary-General's Special Advisor for the Sahel, Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, briefed the UN Security Council on developments in Sahel and Risks and Opportunities. RHIPTO is preparing a report on Risk and Opportunities for the Sahel for the Special Advisor, supported by UNDP and the Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development. The briefing described how Criminal activities - both on land and at sea - along with terrorist networks have reached levels which may threaten the very stability of the States  and are used to feed extremism and exacerbate instability. But the advisor also highlighted the enormous potential and positive developments given the necessary support, and the role of the UNISS plan for sustainable development.

World Atlas of Illicit Flows presented in UN Security Council

November 05, 2018

UN Security Council: At the Police Commissioners 8393rd meeting on policing in UN peace-keeping operations, Mrs. Tuesday Reitano from Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (GI)  presented the key findings of the RHIPTO-INTERPOL-GI World Atlas of Illicit Flows to the UN Security Council. The statement highlighted the severe impact that organised crime now have in financing terrorism and exploiting conflicts. Addressing the threat and intrinsic role of transnational organised crime has become vital for understanding the underpinnings of conflicts and in early prevention and resolution of conflicts.

INTERPOL-RHIPTO-GI at UN Opening: Organized crime behind World's terrorism and conflicts

September 25, 2018

New York 26 Sept. 2018: At the opening of the UN General Assembly, a new report warns that the illegal exploitation and taxation of gold, oil and other natural resources is overtaking traditional sources of threat finance, such as kidnapping for ransom and drug trafficking, which fund terrorist and militant groups. The World Atlas of Illicit Flows, launched with the Governments of France and Norway and compiled by INTERPOL, RHIPTO and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, provides the first consolidated global overview of the significance of organized crime in conflicts and terrorism worldwide. 

INTERPOL Global Forestry Crime Conference

September 05, 2018

INTERPOL completed successfully the Global Forestry Crime Conference at INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon. RHIPTO presented jointly with INTERPOL in the closing panel, highlighting the international collaboration and especially the work of strengthening intelligence-led operations with national police task forces to prevent illegal deforestation.

New UN Report: "The State of Knowledge of Crimes that have Serious Impacts on the Environment"

July 10, 2018

Today the UN Environment released a new report as a result of the gathering of environmental crime experts. RHIPTO was responsible for the final critical review of the report.  "The State of Knowledge of Crimes that have Serious Impacts on the Environment" was part of a larger consultative expert process involving experts nominated by governments, inter-governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations. Environmental crimes undermine sustainable development and contribute to the acceleration of climate change, mainly through accelerated tropical deforestation. No less significant, such crimes undermine the rule of law, good governance, and fuel geopolitical conflicts.

EU conference: Combating environmental criminality and ecocide

June 26, 2018

MEPs of the European parliament organised a conference on Combating environmental criminality and ecocide ahead of the upcoming vote on stricter regulations on environmental crimes. RHIPTO was invited to present the key findings of UNEP-INTERPOL-RHIPTO report "The rise of Environmental crime" and provided an update on the implications of environmental crimes for peace, development and security. The role of development support in building stronger enforcement and judiciary capacity in developing countries to prevent loss of revenues and prevent funding of non-state armed groups was discussed. RHIPTO identified major loop holes in which organised criminal groups bypass EU regulations to prevent imports of illegal tropical wood-products, in order to tighten further regulations and prevent illegal deforestation.

Norway steps up fight against illegal deforestation: INTERPOL, UN Office on Drugs and Crime and RHIPTO join forces

June 26, 2018

Today, the Norwegian Government announced a pledge of up to €15 million (145 million NOK) to the new partnership. “We will no longer permit criminals to perform massive destruction of tropical forests.” said Ola Elvestuen, the Norwegian Minister of climate and the environment. It is essential that decisive action is taken, and this project provides an effective platform to unite our efforts, “  said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock, who pointed to the recent success of Operation Thunderstorm. “UNODC is dedicated to supporting the capacity of countries to combat transnational organized crime in all its forms” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov. “Some of these criminal groups have previously engaged in drugs or fought in conflicts and some consist of corporations operating through shell and front companies in tax havens “ said Christian Nellemann, Director at RHIPTO.

RHIPTO and UN Environment reconfirms strengthened collaboration

June 21, 2018

UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim and RHIPTO director Christian Nellemann signed today a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). RHIPTO will strengthen its Rapid Response capacity and support UN Environment further, including on the role of environmental crime in peace, sustainable development and security. The agreement follows an extensive evaluation of the mutual benefits of the previous agreement and its benefits to the UN Environment, and strengthens further the collaboration.

British Army stepping up antipoaching efforts

May 28, 2018

"Army Malawi Deployment 'Incredibly Important' In Poaching Fight", said British Secretary of Defense Gavin Williamson. British Army are deploying selected troops as anti poaching instructors in Malawi. "The troops will act as a force-multiplier", said Major James Cowen, CO of the deploying unit. The troops will be supplying training to hundreds of African rangers in tracking, long-range patrolling, wildlife criminal intelligence network building and conducting safe arrests. The announcement of the deployment and subsequent training was featured on BBC and Good Morning Britain (ITV), alongside British Armed Forces Net. 

Norwegian news: Combat illegal logging of tropical rainforests

May 11, 2018

Recently, near 100 million euros has been spent in attempts to reduce deforestation in DR Congo. RHIPTO director provides interview and calls for stronger law enforcement efforts against illegal logging (TV and news in Norwegian).

BBC: RHIPTO reports Al Shabaab still profits from illicit charcoal

May 05, 2018

Al Shabaab still makes an estimated 20-30 million USD from taxations and the illicit charcoal trade. Most charcoal is now shipped out to vessels using small boats along the shores after the loss of major ports. The BBC interview related to a conference in Mogadishu. Somalia, addressing the illicit charcoal trade. RHIPTOs director provides interview ca. 5.50 into programme, including on the role of threat finance funding from an illicit charcoal trade also in DRC and other African countries.

Taliban now have presence in 85% of the Afghanistan drug smuggling routes

April 30, 2018

New RHIPTO map reveals rising control by an estimated near 40,000 Taliban fighters disputing near half of Afghanistan, with presence along 85% of the most critical drug smuggling routes. Taliban are estimated to retain revenues of  35m – 105m from opium, and twice that from various taxation schemes to a total of at least 188-224 million USD annually. In 2017, Afghanistan opium production surged 87 per cent to record level. Furthermore, groups associated with and collaborating with Taliban are increasingly also refining opium to heroin directly within Afghanistan, especially in central and Northern regions.  

  

RHIPTO provides recommendations to EU parliament on environmental crime, migrant crisis and development

March 21, 2018

As the EU parliament is addressing the challenges of the migrant crisis, environmental crime and development support for conflict prevention and poverty alleviation, RHIPTO director Christian Nellemann today briefed the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Africa Caribbean Pacific on threats to development from environmental and transnational organized crime, terrorism finance, threat finance to conflicts and the migrant crisis. The meeting was arranged by ACP-EU JPA Committee on Social Affairs and the Environment. The joint assembly also included the ACP-EU Committee on Political Affairs; ACP-EU Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade. 

ISIS strengthens position in northern Somalia while Al Shabaab remains present

February 05, 2018

ISIS has been present a while in Northern Somalia but continue to establish stronger in Northernmost Somalia. In spite of major setbacks to Al Shabaab and losses over their charcoal trade, Al Shabaab continues to engage in attacks in inland Somalia and Mogadishu, and continues to benefit from charcoal export along the coast. After losses of charcoal export from Barawe and Kismayo ports, illegal exports now takes place along the beaches using small boats filled with charcoal on to larger vessels anchored up off-shore.

Voice of America: Organized crime dumps waste in western Africa

February 04, 2018

A special report by Voice of America (VOA): Modern life is filled with televisions, mobile phones, and other electronics. Technology advances so quickly that many of these items become obsolete just a few years after production. So, they get replaced, and the old ones get discarded. More often than not this waste does not go specialized waste facilities but rather to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa are being used as a dumping ground. VOA News' Jeffrey Young reports on TV2 Africa featuring RHIPTO Executive Director.  VOA Africa covers English speakers in all 54 African countries with 25+ million viewers weekly.

November 21, 2017

Illegal logging in virgin forests and UNESCO World heritage sites in Carpathian mountains, illegal fishing of sturgeon for caviar in the Danube river, illegal hunting of 11-36 million birds across Mediterranean and poaching of bears, wolves and lynx are amongst threats to European wildlife says new UN report. The report  was launched today, November 22nd, in the EU Parliament, Brussels.

ISIL smuggling routes and taxation schemes dramatically reduced

August 02, 2017

New map shows drastic reduction in ISIL smuggling routes out of Syria/Iraq including to Turkey and loss of territory. Not only has ISIL lost Mosul and parts of Raqqa  - their access to smuggling oil and antiques out of Syria has been dramatically reduced with severe impacts on their finances. Furthermore, loss of population control and land has crippled taxation schemes, explaining recent "fire sales", drops in salaries to fighters and desperate confiscations. Foreign fighters are increasingly abandoning Syria and Iraq.

Stepping up fight against "conflict gold" in Great Lakes region

August 02, 2017

The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region (0/SESG-GL) will jointly engage with all the Governments of the region to Fight against Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources including collecting  reliable production and export data, starting with Uganda. RHIPTO staff has been significantly involved in several reports on illegal exploitation of natural resources in the conflict zones of DRC. UN Environment, Groups of experts and many others, including NGOs contributed to the promising developments.

Conflict Minerals in Great Lakes Region: Way forward to curtail illegal trade

July 06, 2017

The Special envoy for the Secretary General Mr Said Djinnit, UN Under-Secretary General Erik Solheim, The ICGLR and Experts on Africa’s Great Lakes region have convened a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, July 5-6th, for consultations on how to tackle illegal trade of natural resources in the region.  “The persistent activities of illegal armed groups remain one of the main threats to the security of the population and the stability of the DRC and the region,” Mr Said Djinnit told the Security Council earlier this year. The meeting is a follow-up from the report prepared by UNEP-MONUSCO-O/SESG and RHIPTO presented in the UN Security Council in 2015, which led to a strengthened mandate for MONUSCO. This has been followed up a meeting in April 2017, where the ICGLR and the Office of the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region convened the Directors of Public Prosecution from the region in Nairobi to discuss ways to address crimes related to the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources. The Group of Experts for DR Congo under the Sanctions committee of the UN Security Council has consecutively documented illegal exploitation benefitting armed groups. 

May 23, 2017

The global criminal economy has flourished: growing four-fold over the last two decades, feeding off burgeoning markets for illicit commodities, narcotics, wildlife products, kidnapping, ransom and extortion, both virtual and real. The profits – recently estimated between USD 6-22 trillion a year - have flowed to drug cartels, cyber-criminals, terrorist groups and to corrupt states. The internet and the international financial system have been co-opted and are complicit in facilitating the interests of plutocratic elites at the expense of the rest of society; in furthering criminal commerce and extreme violence over social order and equitable development. RHIPTO supported some of the material to the report by US National Defence University - Centre for complex operations and Global initiative against organised crime. Report was presented in Vienna 23rd of May and Oslo 24th of May 2017.

POLITICO article "Welcome to Agadez" and the RHIPTO smuggling map wins prestiguous Award

May 17, 2017

The highly cited POLITICO article by LUCAS DESTRIJCKER: "Welcome to Agadez" won both the prestigious Award of Excellence for Cover Story, as well as the Print Award. The article features the RHIPTO Trans-Sahara smuggling map prepared by Riccardo Pravettoni and RHIPTO staff from Norway, London and Paris offices. The design  won the Award of Excellence from the Society for News Design. The Pravettoni map has received world wide attention as the most current source on smuggling routes in the Transsahara. 

May 09, 2017

Over 2,000 park rangers and game scouts have received training in crime scene management and tracking through Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute, the Mweka College of African Wildlife Management - supported by the Tanzanian Government and external instructors . The report provides examples of success stories - and highlights and identifies smuggling routes of ivory, needs for support - and what type of training and equipment that is really needed at the frontline - in the voices of the rangers themselves.

Environmental crime-Tackling the Greatest Threats to Our Planet: Released today by UN Environment

April 06, 2017

The United Nations Environment launched today "Our Planet" with invited articles from around the globe on Environmental Crime- including from RHIPTOs director Christian Nellemann, Joko Widodo- President of Indonesia, José Sarney Filho-Minister from Brazil, Zhang Jianlong- Minister from China, Vidar Helgesen-Minister from Norway, Roraima A. Andriani- Director at INTERPOL and Emmanuel de Merode, Director of the Virunga national Park. Previous contributors have included Nelson Mandela, Gorbachev,  Pope John-Paul II and Pope Bartholomew I of Constantinople,  Ban Ki -Moon, exceptional individuals and experts, Ministers and Heads of State from across the planet. The report highlights deep concerns from renowned experts and authorities worldwide on the rising threat of environmental crime to peace, development and security.

In historic move, the UN Security Council mandates MONUSCO to use "..rapidly deployable units, information-gathering assets and specialized infantry" to neutralize armed groups and criminal networks supporting them.

March 30, 2017

The UN Security council passed resolution 2346 (31MAR2017), which reduced troop number, but continued to expand and strengthen the mandate of MONUSCO "to take all necessary measures to carry out its mandate". This included to "carry out targeted offensive operations through the Intervention Brigade" and "continue to maximise Force interoperability, flexibility, mobility and effectiveness .." including by "deploying rapidly deployable units, specialised capabilities, including information-gathering assets and specialized infantry". The historic move represents a strengthening of MONUSCO capabilities to address the underpinnings of the conflict through "collecting and analysing information on the criminal networks which support these armed groups" and represents a further strengthening of the mandate passed on the recommendations and experiences gained following the UNEP-MONUSCO-OSESG-RHIPTO report from 2015. The representative of France stated that "The replacement of certain troops with specialized units would result in a “more active, more agile, more mobile” Mission". The representative of the United States stressed that “it’s not the number of people we have on the ground”, but the quality of their work.

In deep remembrance of Michael and Zaida, two courageous and dedicated colleagues from the Group of Experts to DR Congo.

March 28, 2017

It is with deep sadness that the news of the loss of Zaida Catalan (Sweden) and Michael Sharp (United States) have reached us all. Zaida and Michael were both members of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had gone missing since 12 March 2017. We convey our deepest condolences to their loved ones and families in profound appreciation of the courage, will and determination that each of them devoted to help bring peace and hope to innocent people in this region. We share our hope for the safe return of the four colleagues from DRC still missing,  who were with them.

World Water Day: Water grabbing

March 21, 2017

Al Jazeera: RHIPTO cartographer Riccardo Pravettoni supports the World atlas: Water Grabbing with graphics depicting the water situation across the globe in an atlas released on March 22 - World Water Day. 

February 18, 2017

Smuggling and criminal networks entrenched in the Trans-Sahara region have expanded dramatically in the last decade with the entry of cocaine and more recently - migrants. Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Al Mourabitoun, Messina Katibat along with other non-state armed groups are conducting taxations of the illicit trade, or investing incomes from ransom and cigarette smuggling in multiple small-scale "facilitators" - including vehicles and communications. With many conflicts, such as in Libya, having undermined development in many border and remote towns and villages, targeted development efforts are key to preventing recruitment to trafficking networks and non-state armed groups. Norway is stepping up development efforts, including through international donor conferences. The development is covered in a recent article in the Norwegian Bistandsaktuelt.

Foreign fighters that joined IS/Daesh moving out of Syria/Iraq and Libya

February 08, 2017

The largest numbers of foreign fighters that joined  IS/Daesh in Syria/Iraq and Libya have mainly originated from Saudi-Arabia, Tunisia, Russia and France, amidst near 100 countries. Currently many are now moving out of Syria/Iraq and Libya, following both refugee streams but also established smuggling routes.This includes movements from Iraq/Syria through Turkey and onwards to Russia and Europe, and to Mali, Niger and Mauritania from Libya. See map section for maps and numbers

Security Council Condemns Human Trafficking in Strongest Terms, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2331 (2016)

December 19, 2016

Security Council Condemns Human Trafficking in Strongest Terms, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2331 (2016). RHIPTO contributed as opening panel speakers in the preceding UN conference on human trafficking in conflict, led by UNU and supported Permanent Missions of the United Kingdom and of Liechtenstein: The UN report Fighting Human Trafficking in Conflict: 10 Ideas for Action by the United Nations Security Council. The UN Security Council especially adopted and emphasised strongly in the resolution the need for cross-UN collaboration and to strengthen partnerships with also independent entities that could support the UN and member states further with information and analysis on human trafficking and financing of armed groups. RHIPTO produced in 2016 together with UN agencies a number of briefs and two trafficking reports with Global Initiative against organised crime, quoted also by the Sanctions committees in their reports to the Council. 

December 08, 2016

Environmental crime threatening peace and security, finds new INTERPOL-UN Environment report Washington DC, USA. More than 80 per cent of countries consider environmental crime a national priority, with the majority saying new and more sophisticated criminal activities increasingly threaten peace and security. 

November 30, 2016

The British government and Ministry of Defence have declared to support anti-poaching efforts and the work against organised wildlife crime in Africa, including Malawi and Gabon. UK Armed Forces will help stem illegal wildlife trade in Malawi by training a new force of anti-poaching trackers. RHIPTO has been engaged in supporting anti-poaching efforts for the UN and INTERPOL.

European Union (EU) passes resolution on wildlife trafficking ‘as a matter of urgency’ quoting UNEP-INTERPOL-RHIPTO report

November 28, 2016

The EU has passed a resolution - quoting amongst other the UNEP-INTERPOL rapid response report "The rise of environmental crime" prepared by RHIPTO for UNEP - calls on EU member states to address corruption and the shortcomings of international governance measures across the wildlife trafficking chain ‘as a matter of urgency'. 

November 22, 2016

RHIPTOs contributions to UN reports reached several billion potential viewers in 2016. The World's leading media outlets published several thousand media stories on reports prepared on behalf of the UN and INTERPOL by RHIPTO in 2016. Coverage included from one report alone links to 1,264 news articles within days of the launch, in 88 countries and in at least 27 languages, including TV, newspapers, magazines and radio.