Willem Wijnstekers, CITES Secretary-General, reacts
to Parties' observations and comments on the Strategic Plan
WITH OTHER BIODIVERSITY-RELATED AGREEMENTS:
Hamdallah Zedan, Secretary-General of the CBD provided an update
on activities including the recently ratified Biosafety Protocol.
He highlighted two important areas for potential cooperation between
CITES and the CBD to be considered at CBD COP-5 to be held 15 – 27
May 2000. He said new national reporting guidelines and the Strategic
Plan, which includes consideration of joint programming, would be
important areas of cooperation between CBD and CITES. He welcomed
CITES input to these discussions.
Arnulf Müller-Helmbrecht, Secretary-General of the Convention on Migratory
Species (CMS), noted that the CMS provides the legal and programmatic
basis to conserve migratory species. He suggested that joint programming
should be explored and implemented for species listed by both CITES
and CMS. He announced that CITES and CMS will enter into consultation
to establish a MOU.
event: What Role for Civil Society in Conservation?
sharp differences between NGOs attending CITES COP-11 surfaced again
at a NGO panel discussion co-convened by Environment Liaison Centre
International, and UNEP's Civil Society and NGO Unit to discuss
the role civil society organisations (CSOs) should play in CITES.
Pueschel from Greenpeace,
who called for transparency and accountability in CITES through
the elimination of secret voting, public information and education
and channelling of information from grassroots communities to CITES,
was questioned about Greenpeaces' transparency in its internal decision-making.
A panellist, Rune Frovik of the High North Alliance, also accused
Greenpeace of sensationalism, and underscored the need for NGOs
to substantiate their claims with factual information.
Another panellist, Cecil Machena of the African Resources Centre,
criticized the "conservationist" approach of some NGOs that fail
to recognise that the wildlife conservation without benefits accruing
to local communities "is not real."
NGOs, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer said NGOs play an important
role in providing both "constructive information and criticism"
that leads to dialogue because compromise for its own sake is ineffective.
of WWF said NGOs strength is
in their diversity, and noted that whereas governments seek conflict
resolution, NGOs seek conflict management. Mario Hernandez of the
CITES Secretariat said CSOs can create public awareness among consumers
and eliminate the market for trade in endangered species.
UNION: Chistoph Bail, of the European Commission (EC) on behalf
of the EU, announced that the EU would adopt both a firm position
on key CITES issues and a flexible approach to details of the negotiations.
He expressed satisfaction with the evolution of discussions but
regretted the absence of constructive attitude on the part of some
delegations. On the issue of whales, he said CITES should not take
any action that would undermine the primacy of IWC in the area of
whale conservation, and therefore opposed the down-listing of whales
proposed by Japan. He further declared that the EU does not support
the Cuban proposal on turtles and called for mitigating measures
to curb over-exploitation of sharks. On the issue of African Elephants,
while opposing any trade in raw ivory on the basis of the precautionary
principle, he said it was too early to assess the impacts of the
down-listing decided at COP-10. He urged for an agreement among
Representatives of the Japanese delegations reiterated their philosophy
of "sustainable use." One representative hoped discussions on whales
would be "appropriate" and said all populations of minke
whales should be downlisted to Appendix II so that sustainable whaling
could resume. On elephants and ivory trade, he characterized the one-off
trade as a success and urged all CITES COP-11 delegates to support
the proposals of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa to allow
more trade. He asserted that this trade "cannot do any damage to African
elephants in the region" and rejected claims that elephant poaching
had increased as a result of allowing ivory trade. On whether Japan
could hold off on ivory trade until there is consensus that this won't
fuel poaching, one representative said that, according to the CITES
secretariat, there is no evidence that agreed upon ivory trade will
lead to poaching or illegal trade. In response to a question as to
why "Japan eats all endangered species," representatives explained
that Japan has a cultural need to consume such species, but that it
intends to do so in a sustainable manner.
Central to the debate on ivory trade is whether the 1997 decision
allowing Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe a one-off sale to Japan has
caused resurgence in elephant poaching. Many delegates are stunned
by the low number of poaching incidents reported to the Secretariat
since 1997. The figure of 235 contrasts sharply with independent studies
conducted that reveal figures closer to 30,000. Some delegates intimate
foul play and underestimation by countries who wish to color statistics
in support of continuing the ivory trade. Others speculate that reports
to the Secretariat were limited due to countries withholding information
out of fear of making waves. Several African countries assert that
the 1997 decision has resulted in increased poaching and are concerned
that the Secretariat's skewed figure will be used to advocate continued
ivory trade which could increase international demand for ivory, lead
to more poaching and future pressure for ivory trade in range States.