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Illicit Flows Fuelling Conflict in the Tri-Border

The tri-border area between Libya, Sudan and Chad sits on the periphery of all three countries both geographically and politically. While far from the control of capitals, these areas are not ungoverned. At least in Libya and Sudan, strongmen have taken control of these areas, capitalising on the presence of gold and the flow of people and other commodities to enrich themselves and bolster their power. But their power is not absolute. 


This new report from RHIPTO was presented to a UK government audience on Monday 19 July. A pilot project for the XCEPT research programme, the report brings together research conducted between September 2020 and June 2021 on conflict dynamics in the Chad-Sudan-Libya tri-border area, and the influence on revenues from artisanal gold mining and migration flows.

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Money laundering and environmental crime worth up to 281 billion USD

Efforts to detect, pursue and disrupt enviro crimes have not been proportionate to the sector worth up to 281 billion USD/year says the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) in a new report released today with contributions from RHIPTO. FATF President Marcus Pleyer addressed the G7 with a message on tackling environmental crime. The report cited numbers from RHIPTO's World atlas of Illicit Flows and included RHIPTO-UNODC graphics on the nature of money laundering in environmental crimes.

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Risk of major regional conflict in Tigray and Al Fashqa with Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia

Since November 2020, Ethiopian armed forces have been clashing with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in northern Ethiopia. Eritrean forces have also become actively involved. At least 62,500 people have fled across the border into Sudan, and Tigrayans elsewhere in Ethiopia are being persecuted. The heavy involvement of Eritrean troops in Tigray, long denied by the Ethiopian government, has transformed Tigray from an internal conflict to a regional problem. Sudanese troops are currently staging on the border in the Al Fashqa area. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, further south on the Sudan/Ethiopia border in Benshangul-Gumaz province has also created conflict between the two countries, The border conflict with Sudan, and the reported use of Somali troops by Eritrea will only escalate the war.

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Le Monde and RHIPTO collaborated to produce a map on gold and armed groups in West Africa

Le Monde published a full page map featuring RHIPTO in their prestiguous weekly Geopolitical page. The large format map shows the florishing gold business in West Africa, a region that today has become the third most important gold basin of the world, with Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso leading the gold production. Alongside the big mining corporation, large portions of the gold available in the Sahel is extracted by small scale artisanal miners, providing armed groups and Jihadist groups operating in the region both a source of revenue through taxation and smuggling of gold (see also how armed groups revenue from gold is generated), and a ground for recruitement 


The map, published on the print version of the newspaper, is also available in web format

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Islamic State on the rise in Mozambique

Islamic State has claimed an Islamist extremist group in northern Mozambique as belonging to their organization since 2019, extending the territory of Islamic State Central African Province (ISCAP) from DRC to the East African coast. Attacks have centred on key towns in the northeast, especially port towns, including crossing the border into Tanzania, which has its own Islamist problem on Zanzibar. The territory controlled by ASWJ/ISCAP is also a hub for heroin trafficking, the movement of other drugs, smuggling of timber, ivory and people. With control over key landing points and stretches of road into Tanzania, there is potential to tax or charge protection fees to convoys. However, the high levels of violence and the decentralised structure creates a challenge to capitalising on these revenue sources.

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Rwanda and Russia step up support in CAR against Chad and Sudanese supported rebel groups

Elections were held in CAR on 27 December 2020, with Faustin-Archage Touadera re-elected. Armed groups (3R, MPC, UPC, FPRC and two anti-Balaka) on 19 December 2020 united under the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), and many attacks before and after the election are attributed to the group. CPC brings together both anti-balaka and ex-Seleka groups. This has led to substantial strengthening of Russian support to Touadera through use of the Wagner group to secure control of gold mine areas in the west and central parts of CAR, with Sudanese supported fighters in the NE, and Chad-supported fighters in the NW.

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Human trafficking in Sahel, Balkans and Vietnam: An insight
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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.

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UN Security council addresses illicit flows of natural resources from Central African republic
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The rising attention on combating Illicit flows led the UNSC to pass today S/res 2499 condemning cross-border criminal activities, such as arms trafficking, illicit trade, illegal exploitation, and smuggling of natural resources, including gold, diamonds, wildlife poaching in CAR. There Security Council further requested in Item 7 investigations and efforts to combat transnational criminal networks and armed groups involved, reactivate joint bilateral commissions between the CAR and Cameroon and the Republic of Congo to take agreed next steps to secure common borders

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Nagorno-Karabakh peace agreement: Frozen conflict or stepping stone to Turkish Caspian corridor?

Armenia is on the retreat in Nagorno-Karabakh and are suffering massive losses of troops, civilians and armour. The over 2,000 Syrian fighters, alongside the use of drones and other western warfare technology have inflicted far more significant losses to the Armenian army than in previous conflicts. As a result, with great pain, Armenia conceded to a Russian brokered peace agreement allegedly freezing the conflict from midnight 9 November 2020. Russia will deploy 1,960 peacekeepers.

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Covid-19 in Sahel: Threat finance drops by 40-70% and raises importance and fighting over of gold by Jihadists in Burkina Faso

Incomes from smuggling of drugs, cigarettes, migrants and other products across the Trans-Sahara have declined by 64% due to COVID-19 restrictions since March 2020, and more so since 2017 and some migrants were simply abandoned en route in the desert. Transport of cocaine arriving from Latin America via Guinea Bissau has apparently increased again along the westernmost routes and also directly to Albania and the Balkans, Hashish continues to be transported directly from Morocco to Europe by fastboats and fishing vessels to Spain, Portugal, as well as to Albania and even France and Italy. The decline in incomes to armed groups are likely across all “business” sectors in the range of at least 40-70% compared to the situation in 2016 and has resulted in more kidnap for ransom negotiations. On the other hand, local gold prices in the Sahel has increased by 18% since Covid began and by 41% since 2016, increasing its importance to jihadists groups in the Sahel substantially.

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Over two thousand Turkey-imported foreign fighters from Syria and drones push back Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh

The fighting in Nagorno Karabakh continues into its second month, with at least 1,000-2,000 dead. Attempts at cease fires have failed. The conflict is deeply embedded in regional rivalry, particularly between Turkey and Russia. Azerbaijan, bolstered by Turkish support and greater military capabilities, is on the offensive. Despite the heavy use of UAVs and artillery, a significant part of the ground fighting is done by foreign fighters recruited by Turkey in Syria. At least 2,000 fighters were brought to Azerbaijan before the fighting started. The first 150 in July were jihadists, whereas the majority came from the Turkish supported Syria National Army umbrella organisation, centred in Afrin, with mostly Turkmen and Arabs.

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Turkey upscales support to Azerbaijan with foreign fighters and drones in Nagorno-Karabahk

Turkey will continue to upscale its military support to Azerbaijan and take Nagorno-Karabakh back to Azerbaijan, likely driving out the Armenian population from the region, France, US (engaged with elections) and Russia will protest, while China and UK (Brexit and Covid-19) may remain passive. This will likely lead to the fall of Nagorno-Karabakh back to Azerbaijani control and strengthen Turkey’s military and political power in the region, alongside further acceptance of foreign fighter presence in Azerbaijan, but with significant cost of human lives especially of Armenians. This will provide a major opening for Turkey to raise its political, military and economic power into Central Asia, with rising occurrence, arming and training of Jihadists, that will subsequently destabilize the region including Caucasus, and at worst, the entire belt into Central Asia.

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Urgent need for new UN force in Northern Burkina Faso to contain Jihadists groups to prevent further instability across the Sahel

The current situation in Mali must not solely address the future for Mali and the coup makers (CNSP) in response to ECOWAS concerns, but also address the security challenges facing Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, and the rising threat to Benin, Togo and Cote D’Ivoire. A new localized peacekeeping operation in northern Burkina Faso could help prevent a surge in JNIM and IS from accessing the gold mines and extorting artisanal miners. The mission should have stronger air support as done in MONUSCO and MINUSCA. Given the near six fold increase (compared to 2018) in civilian casualties in Burkina Faso, such a peacekeeping mission, could help prevent the rise of a new “Syria situation” with AQ or Islamic State gaining regional control.

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Cambridge University: The wicked problems of forest policy and crimes
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Forestry crimes, including illegal logging and deforestation for agricultural expansion, have become probably the single greatest threat to life on the planet, eradicating more species and numbers than any other human activity and accelerating climate change. RHIPTO staff contributed to this global Cambridge University book on the width of challenges facing forest policies in a changing World. The 410 page book provides the most updated overview of the challenges to date.

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Increased jihadist presence in Côte d'Ivoire and Benin from Burkina Faso
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At approximately 0300 hours on 11th of June 2020 an estimated 20-30 militants attacked a joint military-gendarmerie (police) utpost in Northern Côte d'Ivoire bordering Burkina Faso. The attack took place on the outpost in Kafolo, 80 km direct line distance southeast of Ferkéssédougou. Ten soldiers and one police officer were killed. One militant was killed. The attack may be a retaliation from the insurgents against the joint military Comoé operation launched by Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso including 1,000 Ivorian soldiers that commenced on 11th of May this year to counter the expansion of JNIM and ISGS. The militants are most likely from the Macina Katibat arm of JNIM that have been operating in and around the gold mines and national parks/reserves in southwestern Burkina Faso in the last 12 months.

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Regional control by Al Qaeda related JNIM across Burkina Faso leads to spillover into Ivory Coast and Benin

At approximately 0300 hours on 11JUN2020 an estimated 20-30 JNIM militants attacked a joint military gendarmerie (police) utpost in Northern Côte d'Ivoire bordering Burkina Faso.

Ten soldiers and one police officer were killed, one police officer was wounded, and two others are reported missing. One militant was killed. The attack came in response to the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso launched a joint military operation “Comoé” including 1,000 Ivorian soldiers. The militants are most likely from the Macina Katibat arm of JNIM that have been operating in and around the gold mines and national parks/reserves in southwestern Burkina Faso in the last 12 months.

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Split between Al Qaeda related JNIM and IS in Greater Sahel over gold leads to escalation of conflict in Burkina Faso

From June to December 2019 JNIM co-aligned attacks with Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS) to conduct a series of attacks on camps and convoys along the tri-border area and borders to Burkina Faso. JNIM have increasing been active, alongside ISGS, in the vicinity of gold mines in northern Burkina Faso, where ISGS has executed artisanal miners and both groups are attempting to extort and tax the substantial growing gold mining sector. In-fighting between JNIM and ISGS began in April-May 2020, where first a series of JNIM fighters defected to ISGS, then fighting also erupted in traditional JNIM territory in the Mali-Mopti corridor, inflicting significant losses on ISGS. JNIM now controls vast parts of Burkina Faso including gold smuggling routes to Togo.

Crime-terror nexus: New trends
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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.
 

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Atlas Mondial des Flux Illicites - World Atlas in French
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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.

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

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

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

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

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The Sahel: New times, new opportunities
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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.

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Pence, Lavrov, Merkel and Solberg in Munich Security Conference
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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.

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Ibrahim Thiaw briefs UN Security Council on Sahel
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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.

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World Atlas of Illicit Flows presented in UN Security Council
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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.

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

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Press release
INTERPOL Global Forestry Crime Conference
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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.

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

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EU conference: Combating environmental criminality and ecocide
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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.

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

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RHIPTO and UN Environment reconfirms strengthened collaboration
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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.

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British Army stepping up antipoaching efforts
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"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. 

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Norwegian news: Combat illegal logging of tropical rainforests
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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).

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BBC: RHIPTO reports Al Shabaab still profits from illicit charcoal
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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.

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

  

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

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ISIS strengthens position in northern Somalia while Al Shabaab remains present
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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.

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Voice of America: Organized crime dumps waste in western Africa
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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.

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Environmental crime threatens wildlife and forests in the heart of Europe
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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.

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ISIL smuggling routes and taxation schemes dramatically reduced
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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.

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

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

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World without Order - Beyond Convergence: the rise of organised crime, terror and criminalised states
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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.

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

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Stories from frontline rangers combating poaching
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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.

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

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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.
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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.

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

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World Water Day: Water grabbing
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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.

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Criminal networks in Trans-Sahara undermine development - and Norway steps up support to region
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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.

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

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

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Resolution & press release
INTERPOL-UNEP-RHIPTO: Four out of five countries report environmental crimes now national priority
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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. 

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UK anti-poaching support in Malawi to help tackle organised crime
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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.

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

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88 countries, 28 languages and over a billion viewers
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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.

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RHIPTO map in POLITICO: Agadez - smugling hub of the Trans-Sahara
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"I arrive in Agadez after a 20-hour bone-shaking bus ride from Niamey"..In this article by Lucas Destrickjer, the role of Agadez and some of the fates of over 170,000 migrants passing through Agadez in 2016 is unravelled. The Trans-Sahara smugling route map from RHIPTO is highlighted in the POLITICO article - "Welcome to Agadez - smuggling capital of Africa. Thousands have died along this route to Libya, including passing through Ghat in Southern Libya, a critical center for smugglers and kidnappers operating also from Acacus mountains to the east of Ghat. The region around Agadez and Massif L'Air is becoming increasingly infested by both organised criminals and jihadists operating and conducting attacks both in Mali, Burkina Faso and accessing organised crime networks in Nigeria.

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New York: UN Environment and INTERPOL signs agreement to combat environmental crime
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“We need a comprehensive strategy to combat illegal activities carried out globally by criminal entities to generate profits,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment, said at an event during the UN General Assembly last week. “Environmental crime has far-reaching implications due to the low risk of getting caught and the great opportunity for financial gain,” said Roraima Andriani, INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crimes. Environment Minister and UN Environment Assembly President, Edgar Gutiérrez Costa Rica, pointed to the rising involvement of the drug cartels in illegal logging. Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway, reinforced Norway's commitment to tackle environmental crime and highlighted governments and the fight against corruption as one of the first lines of defence against environmental crimes. RHIPTO staff were Editors for the major UNEP-INTERPOL global reports on Environmental Crime.

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Convergence of threats -High-level event at UN General Assembly
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Cartels, non-state armed groups including rebels and terrorist groups and regular organized criminals are benefitting from environmental crime. Faciltated by Assistant Secretary-General Ibrahim Thiaw, Ms. Roraima Andriani of INTERPOL highlighted the increasing converging of heavy transnational organized crime on natural resources. Edgar Gutierrez-Espelata, UNEA president and minister of Environment, Costa Rica, warned against the rising involvement of the drug cartels in illegal logging in Latin America. Minister Vidar Helgesen, Norway, pointed out the rising threat of environmenal crime to peace and security, the need to strengthen efforts and to take further the lead of Norway in responding to UN Security Council S/res 2195 highlighting the nexus of organized crime and non-state armed groups, including terrorism,  in peace and security. Amina Mohamed, Foreign minister of Kenya, emphasized the threat against development. UN Environment and INTERPOL hosted the high-level side event on the role of environmental crime in peace, development and security and signed a new agreement of collaboration. RHIPTO staff assisted in facilitating the side-event and the preliminary report.

 

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Misplaced migrant policies may benefit violent criminal and armed trafficking gangs
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New joint report by RHIPTO and the Global Initiative Against Organised Crime reveals that harder traffickers benefit and effectively circumvent silver bullet “wall”-border policies, putting migrants and refugees at higher risk to human rights abuses. Failure to address the full smuggling chain can cause rise in and benefit hard core traffickers associated with non-state armed groups on the borders to North America and Europe. This results in push-back of moderate smugglers and promote traffickers, cartels and non-state armed groups, such as known from war on drugs.

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Policy brief
Fighting Human Trafficking in Conflict
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An estimated 45.8 million people live in modern slavery. The International Labour Organization estimates that global profits from forced labour surpass US$150 billion per annum, suggesting that slavery, forced labour and human trafficking are more profitable than the global arms trade. Today, non-state armed groups like Da’esh/Islamic State and Boko Haram actively promote slavery both as a means to finance themselves and as a method of war.

With the UN Security Council about to receive a report from the Secretary-General on Trafficking in Persons in Conflict, there is a unique opening for action on this issue. RHIPTO contributed to this new report, Fighting Human Trafficking in Conflict: 10 Ideas for Action by the United Nations Security Council, reviews the tools available to the UN Security Council and member states and suggests 10 ideas for action, providing concrete steps for the UN Security Council and its partners to take to sever the link between conflict and slavery.

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Meeting in Presidential Taskforce on Wildlife trafficking
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SPRINGFIELD, Va. —The Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking (co-chaired by the Department of State, Department of Interior, and Department of Justice) in cooperation with the Office of Director of National Intelligence and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency hosted the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking Symposium Tuesday, June 28 at NGA's Springfield, Va. campus. 

The conference was opened by NGA Director Robert Cardillo, and keynote remarks from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mr. Dan Ashe. RHIPTO attended the closed meeting and will support the taskforce with information and analysis on converging threats including a wider range of trafficking and relations to non-state armed groups.

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UNEP and INTERPOL: Value of Environmental Crime up 26% - Eco-crime hits record high at up to $258 billion, outstripping the illegal trade in small arms, as international criminal gangs and militant groups profit from the plunder of Earth’s resources
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The UNEP-INTERPOL Rapid Response assesssment led by RHIPTO Rapid Response warns that non-state armed groups across the planet are shifting to environmental crimes as a new source of revenue. The nexus of organized crime and threat finance on the rise. Environmental crimes are rising annually by 5-7% or 2-3 times the rate of the global economy The report is receiving worldwide media attention. 

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Analysis of illegal trade in wildlife: UN-Report
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RHIPTO supported this UN report with contents and graphics , reflecting a scientific analysis of wildlife crime. The report focusses on publicly available data and highlights the need to improve efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. The report provides a summary of literature and essentially depict the large gap between criminal intelligence and official statistics or research available. Both enforcement and criminal intelligence efforts are lacking behind - but also scientific research and monitoring need strengthening.

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Premature Deaths from Environmental Degradation Threat to Global Public Health, UNEP Report Says
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Environmental impacts responsible for almost one quarter of all deaths, highlighting need to place environment at heart of efforts to improve human health

Danger posed by air pollution, chemicals, microplastics, zoonotic diseases and other environmental threats to human health revealed in series of reports released at second United Nations Environment Assembly. RHIPTO staff co-edited report for UNEP.

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Security Council adopts recommendation from DR Congo-report
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The UN Security Council adopted the recommendation from  the UNEP-MONUSCO-OSESG report on the underpinnings of the conflict in DRC, which was led by a RHIPTO-UNEP-MONUSCO-O/SESG team in 2015. The recognition for the first time that the conflict is driven mainly by organized crime, not a political insurgency, is historic. The largest UN peacekeeping operation, including over 20,000 troops and a Force intervention brigade, will strengthen its information and analysis capacity to address the looting of natural resources.

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DR Congo report presented in UN Security Council
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Some of the findings from the report were presented by Head of MONUSCO and Special representative of the Secretary General Mr. Martin Kobler in the United Nations Security Council on 19 March this year. On 26 March 2015, the Security Council passed resolution S/RES/2211 renewing for 12 months the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC.  The UN Security Council furthermore authorized MONUSCO to carry out targeted offensive operations, either unilaterally or jointly, with the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC). Significantly, this enables the Mission to use the necessary force to prevent criminal armed groups from benefitting from any exploitation of natural resources, and hence, address the root causes of the conflict.

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Terrorist groups in Trans-Sahara tax cocaine and cannabis
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International Business Times featured a RHIPTO Trans-Sahara smuggling map and the role of terrorist groups including  AQIM and Al Mourabitoun in taxing or transporting cocaine, cannabis and cigarettes from Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria to Morocco, Libya and Algier, passing through Mauritania and Mali.

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ISIS Makes a Fortune From Smuggling Migrants Says Report - Time (magazine)
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World's most deadly conflict in DR Congo driven by criminal networks, not political insurgency
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A UNEP-MONUSCO-OSESG report, led by RHIPTO staff and supported by a large group of independent experts and MONUSCO, concludes that criminal networks are taking 98% of the profits - estimated at 722-862 million USD annually from gold, minerals, timber, charcoal and even wildlife in the conflict zones in eastern DRC. The criminal  networks fund some 8,000 fighters from 25-49 rebel groups to destabilise the region and subsequently enable the looting to continue. As the criminal networks have become transnational, efforts to control the smuggling especially of gold may cause spill-over of unrest to neighbouring countries, including Burundi.

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Illicit Flows Fuelling Conflict in the Tri-Border

July 19, 2021

The tri-border area between Libya, Sudan and Chad sits on the periphery of all three countries both geographically and politically. While far from the control of capitals, these areas are not ungoverned. At least in Libya and Sudan, strongmen have taken control of these areas, capitalising on the presence of gold and the flow of people and other commodities to enrich themselves and bolster their power. But their power is not absolute. 


This new report from RHIPTO was presented to a UK government audience on Monday 19 July. A pilot project for the XCEPT research programme, the report brings together research conducted between September 2020 and June 2021 on conflict dynamics in the Chad-Sudan-Libya tri-border area, and the influence on revenues from artisanal gold mining and migration flows.

Money laundering and environmental crime worth up to 281 billion USD

June 28, 2021

Efforts to detect, pursue and disrupt enviro crimes have not been proportionate to the sector worth up to 281 billion USD/year says the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) in a new report released today with contributions from RHIPTO. FATF President Marcus Pleyer addressed the G7 with a message on tackling environmental crime. The report cited numbers from RHIPTO's World atlas of Illicit Flows and included RHIPTO-UNODC graphics on the nature of money laundering in environmental crimes.

Risk of major regional conflict in Tigray and Al Fashqa with Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia

April 15, 2021

Since November 2020, Ethiopian armed forces have been clashing with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in northern Ethiopia. Eritrean forces have also become actively involved. At least 62,500 people have fled across the border into Sudan, and Tigrayans elsewhere in Ethiopia are being persecuted. The heavy involvement of Eritrean troops in Tigray, long denied by the Ethiopian government, has transformed Tigray from an internal conflict to a regional problem. Sudanese troops are currently staging on the border in the Al Fashqa area. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, further south on the Sudan/Ethiopia border in Benshangul-Gumaz province has also created conflict between the two countries, The border conflict with Sudan, and the reported use of Somali troops by Eritrea will only escalate the war.

Le Monde and RHIPTO collaborated to produce a map on gold and armed groups in West Africa

April 14, 2021

Le Monde published a full page map featuring RHIPTO in their prestiguous weekly Geopolitical page. The large format map shows the florishing gold business in West Africa, a region that today has become the third most important gold basin of the world, with Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso leading the gold production. Alongside the big mining corporation, large portions of the gold available in the Sahel is extracted by small scale artisanal miners, providing armed groups and Jihadist groups operating in the region both a source of revenue through taxation and smuggling of gold (see also how armed groups revenue from gold is generated), and a ground for recruitement 


The map, published on the print version of the newspaper, is also available in web format

Islamic State on the rise in Mozambique

March 30, 2021

Islamic State has claimed an Islamist extremist group in northern Mozambique as belonging to their organization since 2019, extending the territory of Islamic State Central African Province (ISCAP) from DRC to the East African coast. Attacks have centred on key towns in the northeast, especially port towns, including crossing the border into Tanzania, which has its own Islamist problem on Zanzibar. The territory controlled by ASWJ/ISCAP is also a hub for heroin trafficking, the movement of other drugs, smuggling of timber, ivory and people. With control over key landing points and stretches of road into Tanzania, there is potential to tax or charge protection fees to convoys. However, the high levels of violence and the decentralised structure creates a challenge to capitalising on these revenue sources.

Rwanda and Russia step up support in CAR against Chad and Sudanese supported rebel groups

January 27, 2021

Elections were held in CAR on 27 December 2020, with Faustin-Archage Touadera re-elected. Armed groups (3R, MPC, UPC, FPRC and two anti-Balaka) on 19 December 2020 united under the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), and many attacks before and after the election are attributed to the group. CPC brings together both anti-balaka and ex-Seleka groups. This has led to substantial strengthening of Russian support to Touadera through use of the Wagner group to secure control of gold mine areas in the west and central parts of CAR, with Sudanese supported fighters in the NE, and Chad-supported fighters in the NW.

Human trafficking in Sahel, Balkans and Vietnam: An insight

December 4, 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.

UN Security council addresses illicit flows of natural resources from Central African republic

November 18, 2019

The rising attention on combating Illicit flows led the UNSC to pass today S/res 2499 condemning cross-border criminal activities, such as arms trafficking, illicit trade, illegal exploitation, and smuggling of natural resources, including gold, diamonds, wildlife poaching in CAR. There Security Council further requested in Item 7 investigations and efforts to combat transnational criminal networks and armed groups involved, reactivate joint bilateral commissions between the CAR and Cameroon and the Republic of Congo to take agreed next steps to secure common borders

Nagorno-Karabakh peace agreement: Frozen conflict or stepping stone to Turkish Caspian corridor?

November 10, 2020

Armenia is on the retreat in Nagorno-Karabakh and are suffering massive losses of troops, civilians and armour. The over 2,000 Syrian fighters, alongside the use of drones and other western warfare technology have inflicted far more significant losses to the Armenian army than in previous conflicts. As a result, with great pain, Armenia conceded to a Russian brokered peace agreement allegedly freezing the conflict from midnight 9 November 2020. Russia will deploy 1,960 peacekeepers.

Covid-19 in Sahel: Threat finance drops by 40-70% and raises importance and fighting over of gold by Jihadists in Burkina Faso

November 5, 2020

Incomes from smuggling of drugs, cigarettes, migrants and other products across the Trans-Sahara have declined by 64% due to COVID-19 restrictions since March 2020, and more so since 2017 and some migrants were simply abandoned en route in the desert. Transport of cocaine arriving from Latin America via Guinea Bissau has apparently increased again along the westernmost routes and also directly to Albania and the Balkans, Hashish continues to be transported directly from Morocco to Europe by fastboats and fishing vessels to Spain, Portugal, as well as to Albania and even France and Italy. The decline in incomes to armed groups are likely across all “business” sectors in the range of at least 40-70% compared to the situation in 2016 and has resulted in more kidnap for ransom negotiations. On the other hand, local gold prices in the Sahel has increased by 18% since Covid began and by 41% since 2016, increasing its importance to jihadists groups in the Sahel substantially.

Over two thousand Turkey-imported foreign fighters from Syria and drones push back Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh

November 4, 2020

The fighting in Nagorno Karabakh continues into its second month, with at least 1,000-2,000 dead. Attempts at cease fires have failed. The conflict is deeply embedded in regional rivalry, particularly between Turkey and Russia. Azerbaijan, bolstered by Turkish support and greater military capabilities, is on the offensive. Despite the heavy use of UAVs and artillery, a significant part of the ground fighting is done by foreign fighters recruited by Turkey in Syria. At least 2,000 fighters were brought to Azerbaijan before the fighting started. The first 150 in July were jihadists, whereas the majority came from the Turkish supported Syria National Army umbrella organisation, centred in Afrin, with mostly Turkmen and Arabs.

Turkey upscales support to Azerbaijan with foreign fighters and drones in Nagorno-Karabahk

October 6, 2020

Turkey will continue to upscale its military support to Azerbaijan and take Nagorno-Karabakh back to Azerbaijan, likely driving out the Armenian population from the region, France, US (engaged with elections) and Russia will protest, while China and UK (Brexit and Covid-19) may remain passive. This will likely lead to the fall of Nagorno-Karabakh back to Azerbaijani control and strengthen Turkey’s military and political power in the region, alongside further acceptance of foreign fighter presence in Azerbaijan, but with significant cost of human lives especially of Armenians. This will provide a major opening for Turkey to raise its political, military and economic power into Central Asia, with rising occurrence, arming and training of Jihadists, that will subsequently destabilize the region including Caucasus, and at worst, the entire belt into Central Asia.

Urgent need for new UN force in Northern Burkina Faso to contain Jihadists groups to prevent further instability across the Sahel

September 15, 2020

The current situation in Mali must not solely address the future for Mali and the coup makers (CNSP) in response to ECOWAS concerns, but also address the security challenges facing Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, and the rising threat to Benin, Togo and Cote D’Ivoire. A new localized peacekeeping operation in northern Burkina Faso could help prevent a surge in JNIM and IS from accessing the gold mines and extorting artisanal miners. The mission should have stronger air support as done in MONUSCO and MINUSCA. Given the near six fold increase (compared to 2018) in civilian casualties in Burkina Faso, such a peacekeeping mission, could help prevent the rise of a new “Syria situation” with AQ or Islamic State gaining regional control.

Cambridge University: The wicked problems of forest policy and crimes

July 27, 2020

Forestry crimes, including illegal logging and deforestation for agricultural expansion, have become probably the single greatest threat to life on the planet, eradicating more species and numbers than any other human activity and accelerating climate change. RHIPTO staff contributed to this global Cambridge University book on the width of challenges facing forest policies in a changing World. The 410 page book provides the most updated overview of the challenges to date.

Increased jihadist presence in Côte d'Ivoire and Benin from Burkina Faso

June 10, 2020

At approximately 0300 hours on 11th of June 2020 an estimated 20-30 militants attacked a joint military-gendarmerie (police) utpost in Northern Côte d'Ivoire bordering Burkina Faso. The attack took place on the outpost in Kafolo, 80 km direct line distance southeast of Ferkéssédougou. Ten soldiers and one police officer were killed. One militant was killed. The attack may be a retaliation from the insurgents against the joint military Comoé operation launched by Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso including 1,000 Ivorian soldiers that commenced on 11th of May this year to counter the expansion of JNIM and ISGS. The militants are most likely from the Macina Katibat arm of JNIM that have been operating in and around the gold mines and national parks/reserves in southwestern Burkina Faso in the last 12 months.

Regional control by Al Qaeda related JNIM across Burkina Faso leads to spillover into Ivory Coast and Benin

June 9, 2020

At approximately 0300 hours on 11JUN2020 an estimated 20-30 JNIM militants attacked a joint military gendarmerie (police) utpost in Northern Côte d'Ivoire bordering Burkina Faso.

Ten soldiers and one police officer were killed, one police officer was wounded, and two others are reported missing. One militant was killed. The attack came in response to the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso launched a joint military operation “Comoé” including 1,000 Ivorian soldiers. The militants are most likely from the Macina Katibat arm of JNIM that have been operating in and around the gold mines and national parks/reserves in southwestern Burkina Faso in the last 12 months.

Split between Al Qaeda related JNIM and IS in Greater Sahel over gold leads to escalation of conflict in Burkina Faso

May 27, 2020

From June to December 2019 JNIM co-aligned attacks with Islamic State in the Greater Sahel (ISGS) to conduct a series of attacks on camps and convoys along the tri-border area and borders to Burkina Faso. JNIM have increasing been active, alongside ISGS, in the vicinity of gold mines in northern Burkina Faso, where ISGS has executed artisanal miners and both groups are attempting to extort and tax the substantial growing gold mining sector. In-fighting between JNIM and ISGS began in April-May 2020, where first a series of JNIM fighters defected to ISGS, then fighting also erupted in traditional JNIM territory in the Mali-Mopti corridor, inflicting significant losses on ISGS. JNIM now controls vast parts of Burkina Faso including gold smuggling routes to Togo.

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 8, 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 5, 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 26, 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 5, 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 5, 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.

Environmental crime threatens wildlife and forests in the heart of Europe

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. 

World without Order - Beyond Convergence: the rise of organised crime, terror and criminalised states

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 prestigiuous 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. 

Stories from frontline rangers combating poaching

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.

Criminal networks in Trans-Sahara undermine development - and Norway steps up support to region

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. 

INTERPOL-UNEP-RHIPTO: Four out of five countries report environmental crimes now national priority

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. 

UK anti-poaching support in Malawi to help tackle organised crime

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'. 

88 countries, 28 languages and over a billion viewers

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.

RHIPTO map in POLITICO: Agadez - smugling hub of the Trans-Sahara

October 18, 2016

"I arrive in Agadez after a 20-hour bone-shaking bus ride from Niamey"..In this article by Lucas Destrickjer, the role of Agadez and some of the fates of over 170,000 migrants passing through Agadez in 2016 is unravelled. The Trans-Sahara smugling route map from RHIPTO is highlighted in the POLITICO article - "Welcome to Agadez - smuggling capital of Africa. Thousands have died along this route to Libya, including passing through Ghat in Southern Libya, a critical center for smugglers and kidnappers operating also from Acacus mountains to the east of Ghat. The region around Agadez and Massif L'Air is becoming increasingly infested by both organised criminals and jihadists operating and conducting attacks both in Mali, Burkina Faso and accessing organised crime networks in Nigeria.

New York: UN Environment and INTERPOL signs agreement to combat environmental crime

October 02, 2016

“We need a comprehensive strategy to combat illegal activities carried out globally by criminal entities to generate profits,” said Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director of UN Environment, said at an event during the UN General Assembly last week. “Environmental crime has far-reaching implications due to the low risk of getting caught and the great opportunity for financial gain,” said Roraima Andriani, INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crimes. Environment Minister and UN Environment Assembly President, Edgar Gutiérrez Costa Rica, pointed to the rising involvement of the drug cartels in illegal logging. Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway, reinforced Norway's commitment to tackle environmental crime and highlighted governments and the fight against corruption as one of the first lines of defence against environmental crimes. RHIPTO staff were Editors for the major UNEP-INTERPOL global reports on Environmental Crime.

Convergence of threats -High-level event at UN General Assembly

September 23, 2016

Cartels, non-state armed groups including rebels and terrorist groups and regular organized criminals are benefitting from environmental crime. Faciltated by Assistant Secretary-General Ibrahim Thiaw, Ms. Roraima Andriani of INTERPOL highlighted the increasing converging of heavy transnational organized crime on natural resources. Edgar Gutierrez-Espelata, UNEA president and minister of Environment, Costa Rica, warned against the rising involvement of the drug cartels in illegal logging in Latin America. Minister Vidar Helgesen, Norway, pointed out the rising threat of environmenal crime to peace and security, the need to strengthen efforts and to take further the lead of Norway in responding to UN Security Council S/res 2195 highlighting the nexus of organized crime and non-state armed groups, including terrorism,  in peace and security. Amina Mohamed, Foreign minister of Kenya, emphasized the threat against development. UN Environment and INTERPOL hosted the high-level side event on the role of environmental crime in peace, development and security and signed a new agreement of collaboration. RHIPTO staff assisted in facilitating the side-event and the preliminary report.