Chapter 4: The securitization of transnational environmental crime and the militarization of conservation
The joining of the language and practice of ‘security’ with various forms of transnational environmental crime – but especially the illegal wildlife trade – has become a prominent feature of public policy debate, regulatory outcomes, and dispute within the research and non-governmental organization (NGO) communities. Wildlife crime is frequently now referred to as a ‘serious threat to the security [and] political stability . . . of many countries’ (van Rensburg 2013, p. 1). In 2012, the US Senate conducted hearings into the global security implications of ivory poaching in Africa. In July the following year, US President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking which characterized poaching and the illegal wildlife trade as factors that fuelled instability and undermined security (White House 2013). In October 2013, INTERPOL’s environmental crime programme rebranded itself as the Environmental Security Sub-Directorate, inviting member countries to establish their own National Environmental Security Taskforces (see Pink, Chapter 23 in this volume). The 2014 London Declaration on the Illegal Wildlife Trade referred several times to the security threats associated with poaching and illegal trade. The Implementation Plan for the US Presidential Task Force National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking – released in February 2015 – was clear that an ‘increasing crisis’ in the illegal wildlife trade posed ‘a serious and urgent threat to . . . global security’ (United States Department of State 2015, p. 2). While many of these statements have a declaratory function, and perhaps even a strategic purpose in seeking traction for political support for the fight against wildlife crime, wildlife trafficking and transnational environmental crime more generally, they say little beyond the apparently obvious about the relationship between various forms of transnational environmental crime and (in)security. But something is clearly going on in the security space of transnational environmental crime. The purpose of this chapter is to review these security claims and to analyse the ways in which this particular security discourse has been framed. It begins with a brief overview of ‘securitization’ as a theoretical construct, then sketches a transnational environmental crime security metric that draws, first, on the claims made about security in the context of other forms of transnational and organized criminal practice and, second, that pays attention to both non-traditional and more orthodox (that is, statist) forms of insecurity.
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