Topic A: Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime
The rise in wildlife and forest crime, which is the illicit hunting of flora and fauna, threatens the economic and social development of many countries. This issue has a global reach and is transnational in nature, with criminal organizations operating across national boundaries. These crimes are an emerging geopolitical problem which threaten not only conservation efforts but also global security. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the direct impact of environmental crimes is comparable to the overall global cost of official development aid at nearly USD 135 billion. Throughout the developing world, natural resource exploitation is closely connected to a country’s economic strength. In turn, securing these resources from terrorists and transnational criminal organizations should become part of the fight to achieve sustainable development across the world. The money generated from the exploitation and consumption of wild fauna and flora generates billions of USD which, in turn, finances terrorist organizations internationally. Environmental crimes are also frequently integrated into other sophisticated transnational organized criminal groups that partake in illegal trade of drugs, humans, arms, and counterfeit goods. Therefore, securing the environment is a prominent issue integrated in the primary goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Topic B: The Role of the Internet in Transnational Organized Crime
As internet access spreads rapidly across the world, new types of transnational organized crime have emerged, extending beyond physical borders. The internet is a tool used by many transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), including drug cartels and terrorist groups. These TCOs are difficult to track due to anonymity, the complex nature of the internet, and the lack of a centralized authority over the internet. Countries vary in their degree of regulation of the internet, sometimes allowing unlawful behavior to spread unchecked. With these new and emerging crimes, personal safety and private information is at risk, violating people’s rights across the globe. Understanding crimes via the internet and proposing solutions to this major issue require an understanding of the internet's composition. Most of what the average user sees through standard search engines like Google is about 4% of total web content. The Deep Web, extending beyond this 4%, refers to content that is hidden by standard search engines. The Dark Web is a section of the Deep Web in which content is intentionally hidden and inaccessible. It contains dangerous content and malicious services and activities, such as trafficking, selling of drugs, and sexual exploitation. The Deep Web and Dark Web require anonymity to access, which creates implications and threats to international, national, and personal security and safety online because perpetrators are difficult to trace. As more and more people gain access to the internet all around the globe, in developed and developing countries alike, finding solutions to online crimes becomes only more urgent.