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United Nations: Campaign to Inform Tourists About Illegal Trafficking

(Apr. 15, 2013) On April 5, 2013, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) jointly announced a campaign against the trade in illegal goods and services that funds organized crime. The new initiative includes enlisting tourists to assist law enforcement. The joint press release states that the agencies “will encourage tourists to make informed decisions and help reduce demand for trafficking in persons, cultural artefacts, wildlife, fauna and flora such as ivory products, as well as counterfeit goods, and illicit drugs.” (Press Release, UNWTO, PR 13022, UN Tourism and Crime Bodies to Call on Tourists to Play a Role in Reducing Illicit Trafficking (Apr. 5, 2013); UN Agencies Announce Campaign to Better Inform Tourists About Funding of Illicit Goods, UN NEWS CENTRE (Apr. 5, 2013).)

While the campaign will be launched later this year, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai and UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov signed a Cooperation Agreement that will stress that the demand for even products that seem harmless can have a negative impact on the natural and cultural environments. (Press Release, supra; UN Agencies Announce Campaign to Better Inform Tourists About Funding of Illicit Goods, supra.) The campaign will use the existing infrastructure of tourism, including hotels, travel agencies, and airlines, to disseminate information and thereby limit the illegal markets in certain products. (UN Agencies Announce Campaign to Better Inform Tourists About Funding of Illicit Goods, supra.)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the initiative, stating “[t]he illegal trade in goods and services often funds unscrupulous people involved in human trafficking, the illicit ivory trade and other areas that cause immense suffering and destruction. Well-informed tourists can make a real difference in turning the tide against these criminal acts.” (Press Release, supra.) Fedotov echoed Ban’s view, stating that “[b]y making informed choices, tourists can help sever the financial arteries that fuel these forms of illicit trade.” (Id.)

The new plan will supplement the existing Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, produced by the UNWTO. The Code asks tourists to respect the places they visit, avoid criminal activity, and not traffic in products that are dangerous or whose trade is prohibited by the laws of the countries involved. (Id.; Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, Resolution A/RES/405 (XIII) (Sept. 27 – Oct. 1, 1999), UNWTO website.)