The Ambassador Series Special Edition
Fall 2015 Panel

Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate:
Illegal Trade in Wildlife

Permanent Representative of Botswana to the UN

Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN

Deputy Permanent Representative
Mission of Viet Nam to the UN

Moderated by

Vice President, Species Conservation
Wildlife Conservation Society 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

6:00 p.m. | Registration
6:30 p.m. | Program
7:30 p.m. | Reception

Columbia University Club of New York
15 West 43rd Street
New York, New York



UNA Members: FREE
UNA Student Members: FREE
Guests and Non-Members: $15

All MEMBERS must make a reservation to attend
All NON-MEMBERS must pay in advance to attend
(NO payments at the door)

On July 30, 2015 the United Nations General Assembly passed a sweeping resolution that targets the global problem of wildlife trafficking, calling on all 193 UN member states (governments of the world) to take on a series of actions to "prevent, combat, and eradicate the illegal trade in wildlife."

Adopted by consensus, the resolution recognizes the intrinsic value of biological diversity to human well-being, while expressing concern over widespread poaching and trafficking — particularly of elephants and rhinos.

The Governments of Gabon and Germany initially proposed the resolution, and then led efforts among member states to garner support, and draw up the language. They also held side events during the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 and 2014 to garner attention and support for the issue.

"We commend the Governments of Gabon and Germany especially in their leadership in bringing this important resolution to fruition," said WCS Vice President for International Policy Susan Lieberman. "The UN resolution Tackling Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife sets a powerful framework for governments to collectively tackle this global issue, and treat it as the transnational organized crime that is has become. We commend the member states of the UN for recognizing that the wide-ranging impacts of wildlife trafficking go far beyond just wildlife; they negatively impact human livelihoods, health, and local and national security. WCS looks forward to working closely with the United Nations General Assembly, relevant treaties, and governments around the world to support implementation of this resolution, and to help end the scourge of wildlife trafficking."

Join us for this UNA-NY AMBASSADOR SERIES Special Edition, a panel co-hosted by the Columbia University Club. This special panel will feature representatives to the United Nations from Botswana, Germany and Vietnam, and will be moderated by Elizabeth Bennett from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Read more on this topic: How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa


The Permanent Representative of Botswana to the United Nations, Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, presented his credentials to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2008.

Prior to his appointment, Mr. Ntwaagae was Permanent Secretary in Botswana's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation since 2006.  From 2001 to 2005, he served as his country's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva with concurrent accreditation to Austria and Greece.

Between 1996 and 2001, Mr. Ntwaagae was Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Foreign Ministry.  Before assuming those responsibilities, he was Chief Executive at the National Secretariat of the National Conservation Strategy (Coordinating) Agency, charged with promoting conservation and sustainable utilization of Botswana's natural resource base.

From 1993 to 1995, he was appointed Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Housing, having previously served as Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in that Ministry from 1992.

Mr. Ntwaagae has a master's degree from Pennsylvania University, and a bachelor's degree from the University of Botswana and Swaziland.

Born in 1953 in Tutume, Botswana, he is married and has three children.


Ambassador Heiko Thoms has been the Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations since July 2013.

He served in Cairo, Teheran, Brussels (Permanent Representation to the EU) and  Berlin. Before being appointed as Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, he was the German Foreign Minister's Chief of Staff.

Ambassador Thoms studied Law, Political Science and Islamic and Arabic Studies in Bonn, Cairo, Geneva and Berlin. He speaks English, French and Arabic. Before joining the Foreign Service in 1999, he was research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg.

He currently serves as Vice-President of the Executive Board of UNICEF. He also chairs the Group of Friends of UN Police and the Group of Friends against Illicit Wildlife Trafficking.

Ambassador Thoms is married to attorney-at-law Anahita Thoms. The couple has a son.


Do Hung Viet is current Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Viet Nam to the United Nations, starting from February 2015. He has also been Minister Counsellor at the Mission since July 2013.

From January 2011 to July 2013, Do held the position of Deputy Director-General for the Department for International Organizations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, in Ha Noi. Previously, he was an Officer in that department at the Ministry.

He received a Master in Public and International Law from the University of Melbourne, as well as a Bachelor in International Relations from the Institute for International Relations (now the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam).

Do is proficient in his native Vietnamese, as well as English and Swedish.


Elizabeth (Liz) Bennett is the Vice President for Species Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Born in the UK, she went to Nottingham University to read zoology, and then to Cambridge University where she gained her PhD for research on the ecology of primates in Peninsular Malaysia.

She then moved to Sarawak, Malaysia in 1984, and lived and worked there for the next 18 years. She started there by conducting the first ever detailed field study of the proboscis monkey.

This was followed by state-wide wildlife surveys, studies of the effects of hunting and logging on wildlife. Her time in Sarawak culminated in her leading a team, with WCS and Sarawak Government staff, to write a comprehensive wildlife policy for the State, and subsequently to head a unit within the Government to oversee its implementation. This included providing technical input for new wildlife laws, overseeing their implementation through education and enforcement programs, and assisting in planning Sarawak's protected area system. A core part of the program comprised ways to stop unsustainable hunting and wildlife trade.

Afterwards, Liz became Director of the Hunting and Wildlife Trade Program at WCS. This included working with WCS field staff to develop policies on bushmeat trade in Central Africa and a strategy to address illegal wildlife trade in China, and providing technical support to WCS field staff working on hunting and wildlife trade issues in 65 projects and 30 countries worldwide. Her current role involves overseeing WCS's species conservation programs in more than 60 countries across the globe and in WCS's Living Institutions in New York.

Liz has trained wildlife practitioners at many levels, from post-graduate students to government wildlife staff in Sarawak, Sabah, Myanmar, Taiwan and mainland China. She has published widely, with more than 120 scientific and popular publications, including co-editing a book which is a comprehensive review of the issue of hunting in tropical forests, and co-authoring the World Bank policy paper on the same topic.

Her services to conservation have been recognized by her being awarded the "Golden Ark" award by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1994, the "Pegawai Bintang Sarawak" (PBS) by the Sarawak State Government in 2003, "Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire" (MBE) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2005, Leila Hadley Luce Award for Courage by Wings WorldQuest in 2006, and D.Sc. (honoris causa) by Nottingham University, UK in 2008.

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