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CITES COP-11
Photos and RealAudio of 17 April
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On Monday, Committee I reviewed proposals on African Elephants. Committee II resolved CITES' relationship with the IWC and considered trade in traditional medicines and captive breeding operations. The Budget Committee approved a revised draft budget resolution.


Committee I: AFRICAN ELEPHANTS

At the gates of the UN compound at Gigiri, a group of Kenyan and Japanese protesters encouraged delegates to vote against allowing any ivory trade in Southern Africa.

Jim Armstrong, Deputy Secretary General of the CITES Secretariat, reported on the results of decision 10.1 on experimental trade in raw ivory (Doc. 11.31.1). He stated that on the basis of eight national reports on illegal killings, the Secretariat had concluded that illegal poaching had not increased in the three range States allowed to trade. He said that in cases where it had, the relationship with authorized trade had not been established.

RealAudio excerpts of Mr. Armstrong's report

 

MALAWI said game parks provide income to local communities, which in turn develop anti-poaching coalitions. He said ivory is equivalent to commodities such as gold and oil in SADC countries.
JAPAN highlighted national efforts to prevent illegal trade and noted that the Standing Committee had approved its importing system.

INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE COALITION challenged the scientific validity of the Secretariat's conclusions, describing the report as "shockingly bad science". (web site: http://www.iwc.org/)

INDIA said national figures indicating increased elephant poaching since 1997 were not included in the Secretariat's report.

CAMEROON, speaking for a friends of the Chair group, announced a compromise whereby ivory trade will be prohibited until COP-12, with the African Elephant populations for Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa listed on Appendix II.
TRAFFIC contested NGO figures on poaching, suggesting double counting.
SOUTH AFRICA introduced its proposal to transfer its elephant population to Appendix II (Prop. 11.20). He stressed that conservation cannot be separated from countries' socioeconomic realities. He amended his proposal to a zero-quota for ivory trade.

BOTSWANA introduced its proposal to maintain its African Elephant population on Appendix II and to allow for an annual trade quota of 12 tonnes of ivory (Prop. 11.21). He noted Botswana's elephant populations have a 5% annual growth rate and described conflicts between local communities and elephant populations. He withdrew the proposal.

NAMIBIA withdrew its proposal on its elephant population (Prop. 11.22). He noted that proper management, law enforcement and involvement of local communities, rather than trade prohibition, would deter poaching. He regretted that developing countries were incapacitated in their free use of national natural resources.
KENYA introduced a resolution to modify the terms of non-commercial disposal of ivory stockpiles established by decision 10.2 (Doc. 11.31.4). She suggested the obligation to establish a trust fund discouraged donors from participating in such disposal and proposed that funds go directly into capacity building instead.
ZIMBABWE also withdrew its proposal for an annual ivory trade quota of 10 tonnes (Prop. 11.23). He supported the use of elephant products rather than killing for ivory, declared that conservation would come through legalization and called for an efficient monitoring system.

Miscellaneous:
From left to right: Willem Wijnstekers, CITES Secretary-General; Margarita Clemente, Chair of Committee I; Amb. Bagher Asadi, Chair of COP-11 and Michael Williams, UNEP Press Officer, hold a mid-conference press briefing to answer questions from members of the media.

IN THE BREEZEWAYS
While no one side claimed victory in the highly anticipated debate on the African Elephant and ivory trade, the compromise reached left delegates with a sense of relief. Both sides of the divide entered the negotiating room prepared for a long day of debate, and possible defeat, when the many days of subtle bilateral negotiations paid off and a sudden spirit of African solidarity pervaded, resulting in a compromise that has lifted the contentious elephant topic from the limelight. While some delegates are pleased with the outcome and expect that it will bode well for the future possibility of ivory trade, others see the compromise as merely buying a bit of time until COP-12, when the ivory battle will continue.

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