- As Delivered –
WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at an event sponsored by the Enough Project on the illicit ivory trade and his bipartisan efforts with Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed Royce (R-CA) to combat this issue through the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494):
“I want to thank you again, the Enough Project, for putting this event together and for bringing the challenge posed by the illicit ivory trade to the attention of so many.
“I want to acknowledge my friend, Ed Royce, Chairman of our Foreign Affairs Committee. I agree with everything he said. I’m happy to partner with him in sponsoring the Global Anti-Poaching Act, which is one of many, many issues that our Committee deals with in a bipartisan way. And obviously the issue that we’re all concerned with is a bipartisan issue. It’s not a partisan issue. And we try to deal with those kinds of issues in the Foreign Affairs Committee each and every day.
“So discussions like this one are really very important, because they help connect the dots of why wildlife trafficking is a foreign policy concern for the United States. It’s a foreign policy concern.
“We know the awful statistics. One elephant killed every 20 minutes. That’s shocking. More than 20,000 last year alone. It’s just awful.
“And people will say to me, ‘Congressman, no one in their right minds wants to see these incredible creatures slaughtered. But, what does it have to do with our foreign policy? Isn’t this an issue for environmentalists and conservationists?’
“Well, when you start looking at the bigger picture, the answer to that question becomes clear. These animals, as the Chairman pointed out, aren’t killed just as trophies for someone to hang on their wall—though that’s reprehensible enough for me. The criminals killing elephants are selling the ivory on the black market.
“And where does that money go? To buy weapons for violent armed groups. To bribe government officials and law enforcement. To fuel networks of criminal enterprise. In short, the ivory trade pumps resources into major threats to security and stability we’re facing all around world today.
“And there’s no better poster boy for this kind of activity than Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. If you look at this terrorist organization, you can draw a straight line between the ivory trade and its destructive activity across Central Africa. So you better believe we view wildlife trafficking—Ed and I—as a security issue.
“And that’s why Chairman Royce and I introduced the Global Anti-Poaching Act. And our bill would bring wildlife trafficking under money-laundering and racketeering statutes that are already part of our law. It would support the professionalization of wildlife law-enforcement units on the ground and allow us to provide them non-lethal assistance. It would strengthen regional Wildlife Enforcement Networks designed to combat poaching. And it would name and shame governments that aren’t taking this problem seriously. And they need to be named and shamed.
“So we’ve authorized this bill because we are taking it seriously. We need to crack down on wildlife trafficking—both to protect some of the world’s most iconic animals and also to help disrupt the LRA and other destructive organizations. As I like to say, it’s the smart thing to do. And it’s also the right thing to do.
“So, call your members of Congress—our colleagues—and your Senators and tell them to get behind this legislation and get it to the President’s desk ASAP.
“And once again, thank you all for your commitment and your partnership. Chairman Royce and I believe it’s really a pleasure to work with you and we’re very proud of the work we’re doing with you. Thank you.”