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ANOTHER MILESTONE ATTAINED IN OPERATIONALIZING LUSAKA AGREEMENT

Nairobi, 21 December 1999 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Government of Kenya have negotiated an agreement that establishes Kenya as host and headquarters of the Task Force which seeks to reduce and ultimately eliminate illegal trade in wild fauna and flora.

The Agreement is scheduled for signature on 22 December 1999 by the Kenyan Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hon. Bonaya Godana and Mr. Adan Dullo, the Director of the Task Force. UNEP's Executive Director, Mr. Klaus Toepfer complying with a request from the Parties to the Agreement, was instrumental in successfully completing negotiations with the Kenyan Government. Mr. Toepfer will also attend the signing ceremony.

The conclusion of the headquarters agreement is yet another milestone in the implementation of the wildlife law enforcement mechanism established under the Lusaka Agreement.

To ensure that the Agreement succeeds, its first Governing Council in March 1997 established, in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement, a Task Force, sometimes called "regional Interpol" for this purpose. The Task Force is composed of seconded national law enforcement officers. The first officers of the Task Force including the Director and the Intelligence Officer were appointed on 15 May 1999. Following these appointments, the Task Force was officially launched and commenced operational activities on the 1 June 1999.

In less that six months of its existence, the officers of the Task Force, in collaboration with designated national bureaus, have conducted successfully three cross-border and under cover operations which have resulted into catching hundreds of tons of ivory tusks and fire arms as well as arrests of several poachers. Cases are currently in the national courts for prosecution. The Task Force is already showing positive results and commitment that together in collaboration and partnership, they will curb illegal trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora in the region.

The Lusaka Agreement on Cooperative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora was adopted in September 1994 and entered into force on 10 December 1996. The Parties to the Agreement are the Governments of Kenya, Lesotho, Tanzania, Uganda, Republic of Congo and Zambia. Ethiopia, Swaziland and South Africa are signatories. Since its entry into force, there have been two meetings of the Governing Council of the Parties with a third meeting scheduled for March 2000.

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For more information, please contact: Donald Kaniaru, Director, Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: (254 2) 62-3507, Fax: (254 2) 23-0198, E-mail: donald.kaniaru@unep.org or Tore J. Brevik, UNEP Spokesman and Director of Communications and Public Information, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya. Tel.: (254-2) 623292; Fax: 623692; Email: cpiinfo@unep.org or Patricia L. Jacobs, Information Officer, Media Unit, Tel.: 623088; Fax: 623692; Email: patricia.jacobs@unep.org

UNEP NEWS RELEASE. FOR USE AS INFORMATION.

NOT AN OFFICIAL RECORD.