Vol. 21 No. 50
2-6 OCTOBER 2006
The 54th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC-54) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2-6 October 2006. Approximately 250 delegates attended the meeting, including SC members, observer parties, and inter- and non-governmental organizations. SC-54 addressed a heavy agenda, including: the CITES Strategic Plan for 2008-2013; preparation for the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-14); financial matters; review of the scientific committees; and trade and conservation issues in species including great apes, elephants, tigers, sturgeon and bigleaf mahogany.
Over 20 decisions and recommendations were adopted, and the Memorandum of Understanding between CITES and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization was signed. The SC approved the Secretariat’s estimated expenditures for 2006, and set a deadline for the submission of comments on the CITES Strategic Plan 2008-2013. The SC also agreed, inter alia, to: defer consideration of trade in tigers to COP-14; review timber trade in Peru and Malaysia at future SC meetings; designate Japan as a trading partner for the one-off sale of ivory stockpiles from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, but not to proceed with the sale at this point; and not to revise the 2006 caviar export quotas.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CITES
CITES was established as a response to growing concerns that over-exploitation of wildlife through international trade was contributing to the rapid decline of many species of plants and animals around the world. The Convention was signed by representatives from 80 countries in Washington, DC, United States, on 3 March 1973, and entered into force on 1 July 1975. There are currently 169 parties to the Convention.
The aim of CITES is to ensure that international trade of wild animal and plant species does not threaten their survival. CITES parties regulate wildlife trade through controls and regulations on species listed in three appendices. Appendix I lists species endangered due to international trade. Trade in such species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix-II species are those that may become endangered if their trade is not regulated, thus they require controls aimed at preventing unsustainable use, maintaining ecosystems and preventing species from entering Appendix I. Appendix III species are those subject to domestic regulation by a party requesting the cooperation of other parties to control international trade in that species.
In order to list a species in Appendix I or II, a party needs to submit a proposal for approval by the Conference of the Parties (COP), supported by scientific and biological data on population and trade trends. The proposal must be adopted by a two-thirds majority of parties present at a COP. As the trade impact on a species increases or decreases, the COP decides whether or not the species should be transferred or removed from the appendices.
There are approximately 5,000 fauna species and 28,000 flora species protected under the three CITES appendices. Parties regulate international trade of CITES species through a system of permits and certificates that are required before specimens listed in its appendices are imported, exported or introduced from the sea. Each party is required to adopt national legislation and to designate two national authorities, namely, a Management Authority responsible for issuing these permits and certificates based on the advice of the second national body, the Scientific Authority. These two national authorities also assist with CITES enforcement through cooperation with customs, police or other appropriate agencies. Parties maintain trade records that are annually forwarded to CITES, thus enabling the compilation of statistical information on the global volume of international trade in appendix-listed species.
The operational bodies of CITES include the Standing Committee (SC) and the scientific committees: the Plants Committee (PC), the Animals Committee (AC) and the Nomenclature Committee. The SC provides policy guidance to the Secretariat concerning the implementation of the Convention and oversees the management of the Secretariat’s budget. Beyond these key roles, it coordinates and oversees, where required, the work of other committees and working groups; carries out tasks given to it by the COP; and drafts resolutions for consideration by the COP. The SC usually meets once a year and also shortly before each COP.
The SC is composed of 30 members representing parties in each of the six major geographical regions (Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean, Europe, North America and Oceania). Additionally, the SC includes three members with no voting rights: a representative from the Depositary Government (Switzerland); the party that hosted the previous COP (Thailand); and the party that will host the next COP (the Netherlands). Chile is the current Chair of the SC; while its Vice-Chair and alternate Vice-Chair are Ghana and China respectively.
CITES COP-13: COP-13 met in Bangkok, Thailand, from 2-14 October 2004. Delegates addressed a range of topics, including 50 proposals to amend the CITES appendices, enforcement and administrative matters, and cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Delegates decided to list ramin, agarwood, the great white shark and the humphead wrasse on Appendix II. The irrawaddy dolphin was up-listed from Appendix II to Appendix I. Regarding the African elephant, Namibia saw its request for an annual ivory quota rejected, but was allowed to proceed with a strictly controlled sale of traditional ivory carvings. Delegates also agreed to an action plan aiming to crack down on unregulated domestic ivory markets. Namibia and South Africa were allowed an annual quota of five black rhinos each for trophy hunting, and Swaziland was also allowed to open up strictly controlled hunting of white rhinos. Other decisions focused on synergies with the FAO and CBD, while enforcement issues received considerable attention.
AC-21/PC-15: AC-21 and PC-15 convened from 17-25 May 2005, in Geneva, Switzerland. A joint session of the scientific committees was held on 20-21 May 2005, to discuss issues of common interest to both AC and PC, including: the Strategic Vision and Plan until 2013; the review of scientific committees; the study of production systems for specimens of CITES-listed species; and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity adopted by the CBD. The main task completed by AC-21 was a new review of significant trade (RST) process for a large number of species. For its part, PC-15 referred the issue of bigleaf mahogany to intersessional working groups, which were charged with presenting their findings at PC-16 for further consideration at COP-14.
SC-53: Held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 June-1 July 2005, SC-53 discussed a number of issues, including: the Rules of Procedure; the Strategic Vision, including the establishment of a Strategic Plan Working Group; agreement in principle on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the SC; the RST; financial matters; and budget. The Secretariat reported on progress on the country-based review of Madagascar and the SC heard reports from country representatives. Other decisions focused on: synergies between CITES and the CBD; cooperation with the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS); cooperation with the FAO; conservation of and trade in great apes, tigers, African and Asian rhinoceroses; and control of trade in African elephant ivory.
AC-22/PC-16: AC-22 and PC-16 convened from 3-13 July 2006, in Lima, Peru. The joint session of the scientific committees was held on 7-8 July. PC-16 agreed, inter alia, not to subject bigleaf mahogany to an RST, established an intersessional working group on Prunus africana, and discussed a proposal on timber export quotas to be presented at COP-14. AC-22 adopted six recommendations on: RST in Appendix-II species; production systems for specimens of CITES-listed species; transport of live specimens; sea cucumbers; conservation and management of sharks; and the periodic review of animal species included in the Convention’s appendices.
On Monday morning, 2 October, SC Chair Amb. Cristian Maquieira (Chile) and CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers welcomed the approximately 250 delegates to SC-54 and thanked Switzerland for hosting the meeting.
Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, UNEP, delivered a message on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, in which he stressed UNEP’s commitment to supporting CITES and its efforts to improve services to all biodiversity-related conventions. Steiner further noted that CITES’ move to list economically-valuable timber and fish species on its appendices demonstrates the importance of mainstreaming conservation.
SC Chair Maquieira submitted the meeting’s agenda (SC54 Doc. 2.1) and working programme (SC54 Doc. 2.2) for adoption. China, supported by Germany speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU), requested that SC-54 consider livelihoods issues under the agenda item on economic incentives. Israel requested postponing discussions on the CITES Strategic Plan 2008-2013, given the late provision of documents. Mexico requested including periodic review of the CITES appendices in the SC-54 agenda. Japan requested considering guidelines on compliance, including establishment of a working group, earlier in the week.
On sturgeons and paddlefish, the Russian Federation, supported by Kazakhstan, requested establishing a working group. Canada, on behalf of North America, Israel, Kenya and several NGOs favored consideration of several agenda items, including timber trade, in open, rather than closed, sessions. China, supported by Japan and opposed by the US, requested a closed session on enforcement matters, national laws for implementation of the Convention and illegal trade in tigers. The SC addressed all agenda items in open sessions.
Peru requested deleting the agenda item on bigleaf mahogany, noting that it has been requested by PC-16 to present a progress report by 30 November 2006, and that, consequently, there is no new information on the matter. Japan said the SC does not have a COP mandate to address the issue of mahogany, and Brazil questioned the procedure that led to the inclusion of this item on the SC-54 agenda.
The agenda and revised working programme (SC54 Doc. 2.2 (Rev. 1)) were adopted with these amendments. The SC also adopted the Rules of Procedure (SC54 Doc. 3) without amendment.
On Admission of Observers (SC54 Doc. 5), following Saudi Arabia’s motion, the SC agreed to withdraw its approval of the participation of the International Union for the Conservation of Raptors as observer at SC-54.
The SC also adopted the credentials report, presented orally, on Friday.
This report summarizes discussions and recommendations on each agenda item, following their consideration in plenary, working groups and informal consultations.
STRATEGIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS
CITES STRATEGIC PLAN 2008-2013: The SC considered this agenda item on Monday, Tuesday and Friday, first considering financial aspects of the draft CITES Strategic Plan 2008-2013 (SC54 Doc. 6.1) and the costed work programme for 2009-2011 (SC54 Doc. 6.2), following Israel’s request for more time to study the draft Plan due to its late submission. The SC agreed the Strategic Plan Working Group will finalize the Plan for consideration at COP-14 and established a 15 November 2006 deadline for comments to be submitted to the Secretariat.
Report of the Strategic Plan Working Group: Secretary-General Wijnstekers noted the Strategic Plan’s goal of securing the financial basis of CITES, and highlighted financial constraints, including a 3.7% budget decrease since 1996 contrasted with a 36% increase in the number of parties, and the “dangerously low” levels of the CITES Trust Fund reserves.
Chair of the intersessional Strategic Plan Working Group and SC Vice-Chair Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) introduced the Strategic Plan, noting its two themes: making the Convention work effectively through ensuring compliance and enforcement and securing its financial basis; and positioning the Convention for the future by adopting balanced wildlife trade policies and reducing the rate of global biodiversity loss. He said the Plan takes note of key global challenges of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and meeting the 2010 biodiversity target; and places greater focus on timber and aquatic species.
Israel, supported by Australia speaking for Oceania, Germany and the Species Survival Network (SSN), stressed the importance of stricter domestic measures, noting that the draft Plan infringes on parties’ rights under CITES Article XIV (Effect on domestic legislation and international Conventions). He also highlighted user fees as a way to secure the financial basis of the Convention, and lamented that the proposed objective on wildlife trade policies are biased towards financial return and not conservation values.
Japan opposed the proposed Strategic Plan objective, which states that the SC has the primary role in promoting compliance and addressing non-compliance with CITES. He noted the guidelines for compliance should facilitate consistent application of existing mechanisms and not establish new ones, and that the AC and PC lead on RST. The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) stressed the SC’s role in addressing non-compliance.
On the proposed revised mission statement, Kenya and the SSN urged CITES to keep sight of its original mission of regulating trade in endangered species. Fauna and Flora International stressed compatibility between conservation and human development goals. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) emphasized monitoring and evaluation, including of the outcomes of CITES listings, and securing the financial basis of the Convention through sustainable development finance. Humane Society International (HSI) welcomed the Plan’s objective of ensuring appropriate listing of species on the appendices, and urged improving the balance by listing species such as insects, crustaceans and arachnids.
Outline of a costed programme of work for the Secretariat for the triennium 2009-2011: Secretary-General Wijnstekers explained the Secretariat’s approach to addressing financial constraints through a costed work programme, which should allow for prioritization of work, targeted external funding opportunities, financial transparency, and increased support for capacity building. He also cautioned against adoption of new resolutions until sources of funding have been identified to reduce reliance on external funding.
Oceania welcomed strategic objectives to guide resource allocation, but together with the US, opposed the Secretariat’s proposal not to adopt COP decisions and resolutions in the absence of available funding. The EU suggested that the COP “identify” possible funding sources for resolutions rather than subject their adoption to available funding. Mexico highlighted the risk of imbalances between the Secretariat’s expenditure and available funding for priority programmes. HSI drew attention to the cost implications of the Secretariat’s initiatives and called for greater guidance from parties on priority work areas.
The SC supported the proposed costed work programme for 2009-2011.
The Netherlands described its proposal to hold a ministerial segment in conjunction with COP-14 to enhance political-level involvement in CITES and emphasize the link between trade and species conservation by focusing discussions on timber and marine species.
The Secretariat introduced the draft agenda for COP-14 (SC54 Doc. 7.2), proposing addition of a Secretariat’s report on capacity building. China requested inclusion of an agenda item on livelihoods and requested further information on the proposal to hold a ministerial segment. The SC approved the COP-14 agenda as amended, and the COP-14 draft working programme (SC54 Doc. 7.3) without amendment.
The Secretariat outlined proposed changes in the Rules of Procedure for COP-14 (SC54 Doc. 7.4), including amendments to: formalize regional meetings; allow the host country to select an Alternate Chair, in addition to a Chair, who would attend plenary sessions and Bureau meetings in the Chair’s absence; and clarify the status of informative documents.
On regional meetings, North America, Argentina and Chile opposed the changes, saying each region should determine its own Rules of Procedure. Israel opposed closed participation in regional meeting and raised the issue of balanced participation within regions.
Regarding appointment of an Alternate COP Chair, North America, Africa, Oceania and the EU supported the changes, provided that the Alternate Chair is of the same rank as the Chair. The changes were approved as amended, together with the proposed changes clarifying the status of informative documents.
Secretary-General Wijnstekers introduced the proposal on selection of nominees for chairmanship of the committees (SC54 Doc. 7.5), noting it had been developed in response to calls at COP-13 for increased transparency. He explained the proposal provides, inter alia, for establishment of a selection panel, composed of five members including the CITES Secretary-General, SC Chair and Vice-Chair as ex officio members, and two elected SC members. Japan, supported by North America, the EU, China, India and Malaysia, urged participation of a representative from each region, and requested the Secretary-General to inform the SC of proposed nominees. Germany suggested the next host country representative also participate on the panel. The SC approved the proposal as amended, with SC Chair Maquieira asking regional coordinators to designate members of the selection panel.
The Secretariat introduced its proposal (SC54 Doc. 7.6) to produce summary records of COPs with an executive summary of decisions instead of the current detailed records. Israel supported the proposal and suggested audio recording of COP sessions. The EU suggested a compromise measure of having summary records available at the COP and a detailed record provided later. North America, Chile, Kenya and Malaysia, supported by several NGOs, preferred maintaining detailed written records. The proposal was thus rejected.
The Secretariat then explained the purpose of the Sponsored Delegates Project, highlighting its contribution to enabling participation of approximately 100 parties at COP-13, and its reliance on external funding, and appealed for additional funding.
IUCN, on behalf of TRAFFIC, noted financial constraints for fulfilling its mandate of providing detailed scientific analyses of proposals to amend the Convention’s appendices for COP-14, and urged parties to confirm availability of funds.
LEGAL PERSONALITY OF THE CONVENTION’S SECRETARIAT: This issue was addressed in plenary on Monday, and in informal consultations coordinated by North America throughout the week. The SC agreed to reflect the text resulting from these consultations in the SC-54 report.
The Secretariat introduced the proposal, including a draft resolution for COP-14 (SC54 Doc. 8), noting various problems encountered by the Secretariat in concluding a host country agreement, signing MoUs, and other legal matters. She stressed that the proposal does not seek to change the legal status of the Secretariat but to clarify it, and provide CITES with conditions equal to the other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).
In the ensuing discussion, Israel enquired whether the clause authorizing the Secretariat to perform legal acts would make CITES more vulnerable to litigation. North America, supported by Japan, opposed the idea of an independent legal personality of the Secretariat, and proposed establishing a working group to review the draft resolution. Kenya proposed clarifying governance issues in the working group. Germany suggested identifying possible solutions to the problems currently faced by CITES in cooperation with UNEP. Switzerland opposed the idea of a COP resolution, noting that only an amendment to the CITES Convention text would allow for conclusion of a host country agreement with the Secretariat.
On Friday, North America presented the text resulting from informal consultations, noting it would be premature for the SC to forward a draft resolution to the COP.
Switzerland, supported by the EU, voiced reservations on the proposed text acknowledging the legal capacity of the CITES Secretariat, noting it is in contravention of CITES Article XII 2(e), which requires the Secretariat “to invite the attention of the Parties to any matter pertaining to the aims of the present Convention.”
With these reservations, the SC agreed to include in its report the agreed text, stating that the Secretariat possesses legal capacity, without seeking the prior approval of the COP, to: enter into contracts; acquire and dispose of immovable and movable properties; and perform any act in furtherance of its functions and objectives as directed to it by the SC or the COP.
RELATIONSHIP WITH UNEP: Report of UNEP: Presenting the report (SC54 Doc. 9.1 Rev. 1) on Tuesday, Mrema stressed UNEP’s role in fostering collaboration and synergy between MEAs. She highlighted several activities, including: development of issue-based modules for the coherent implementation of biodiversity-related conventions; organization of a workshop on harmonization of reporting among MEAs; strengthening of the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) Partnership; and work on examining the use of economic instruments to foster MEA implementation. She said UNEP will allocate some funds from its 13% programme support cost received from CITES to the Convention’s activities such as the monitoring of illegal trade and killing of elephants (MIKE) project.
Memorandum of Agreement between the UNEP Executive Director and the SC: SC Chair Maquieira and Mrema then reported on the status of the proposed Memorandum of Agreement (formerly MoU) between UNEP and CITES, with Maquieira noting that UNEP Executive Director Steiner had asked for additional time to review the matter so that it can be addressed within the broader context of UN institutional reform. Mrema explained that, within this broader review process, the UN Joint Inspection Unit has been mandated to review the common support systems provided to enable synergies and effectiveness between the MEAs and prepare a set of common guidelines and principles on how to share and maximize resources. Secretary-General Wijnstekers encouraged parties to allow for this process, suggesting it should strengthen CITES’ position within the UN system.
SC Chair Maquieira agreed to send a letter to the UNEP Executive Director acknowledging his request for additional time to review the Memorandum.
COOPERATION WITH FAO: On Tuesday, the MoU between the FAO Committee on Fisheries and CITES Secretariat was officially signed. FAO noted the growing cooperation between CITES and FAO during the four years of negotiations that led to finalizing the MoU, and highlighted specific activities regarding commercially exploited fish species listed on the CITES appendices. Secretary-General Wijnstekers expressed hope that the MoU will help further combine CITES and FAO technical expertise to ensure management and conservation of aquatic resources.
COOPERATION WITH WTO: On Tuesday, the Secretariat reported on its ongoing collaboration with the World Trade Organization (WTO) (SC54 Doc. 11), which includes information exchange and technical assistance and capacity building in the field of trade and environment. She noted that while CITES benefits from having observer’s status in the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment, it has been unsuccessful in obtaining a similar status in other WTO bodies. Referring to the current suspension of trade talks, she recalled UNEP’s suggestion that it may be a good time to rethink the relationship between trade and environment.
Germany stressed that WTO’s observer status with CITES needs to be reciprocated and, supported by Switzerland, Israel and Chile, requested that SC Chair write to WTO asking full observer status in all WTO bodies and report on progress at future SCs. In response to Iran’s question on lack of equal footing for MEAs in the WTO, WTO noted the situation is part of a broader deadlock in the General Council on granting observer status to organizations.
Ghana proposed that CITES go beyond the observer status to fully participate in decision-making in the WTO on issues affecting the environment. Kenya suggested that CITES also apply for an observer status with the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies.
The US said that continuing and expanding engagement with the WTO is not a core mission of CITES and, with Australia, stressed that national coordination is key to ensuring mutual supportiveness between trade and environment.
The SC noted the report.
FINANCIAL MATTERS: The SC considered financial matters in the Finance Subcommittee on Monday through Thursday, noting the Secretariat’s report for 2005 (SC54 Doc. 12.1) and activities on collection of arrears (SC54 Doc. 12.3), and approving estimated expenditures for 2006 (SC54 Doc. 12.2) in plenary on Friday.
The Secretariat reported on the financial performance of the CITES Trust Fund and estimated expenditures for 2006, highlighting the significant number of parties who remain in arrears for contributions, totaling US$900,000 in 2005, and the systematic reduction in the CITES Trust Fund levels over recent years. In reporting on collection of arrears, she noted that only 15 out of 52 parties had settled their outstanding contributions and suggested the SC consider appropriate forms of action to deal with non-payment.
Oceania said that, since projected expenditures for 2006 will leave the Trust Fund at levels lower than the US$700,000 required by Conf. 13.1 (Financing and budgeting of the Secretariat and of the COP), the SC should not approve a budget that contradicts a COP resolution. Supporting the proposed budget, Switzerland stressed that reserves should not be depleted and that parties’ contributions should be paid in a timely manner. Kenya, supported by Canada, proposed a finance oversight committee to assist the Secretariat in collecting arrears and in other financial matters, while the UK highlighted the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’ finance committee model, which involves both parties and Secretariat representatives. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) suggested stepping up CITES funding via the “user pays” principle, with Secretary-General Wijnstekers noting that some 500,000 CITES permits are issued each year at no charge.
On Friday, Secretary-General Wijnstekers reported on the outcomes of discussions in the Finance Subcommittee (SC54 Sum.Fin. 1), noting it deferred the decision on estimated expenditures for 2006 to the SC, as it entails drawing upon the Trust Fund to cover the increase in staff costs of US$359,001.
REVIEW OF THE SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEES: The review of scientific committees was considered on Tuesday in plenary and in the External Evaluation Working Group on Friday. The Secretariat presented the report (SC54 Doc 13.1), noting problems faced by CITES scientific committees including, inter alia, heavy workloads, few incentives for scientists to serve, and resource constraints.
AC Chair Thomas Althaus introduced the self-evaluation by the scientific committees (SC54 Doc 13.2), noting it needs to be considered together with the performance analysis chart prepared by the committees (SC54 Inf. 5). AC Chair Althaus said all three CITES scientific committees opposed the Secretariat’s recommendation to merge them into a single committee because discussions on plants and animals require different expertise and the current practice of organizing joint meetings has already increased efficiency.
During the discussion, Mexico, speaking for North America, the EU and Argentina supported keeping separate scientific committees, with North America noting additional efficiency could be gained by prioritizing tasks assigned to the committees. AC Chair Althaus highlighted the summary of tasks and duties assigned and carried out by the scientific committees.
The EU said the Nomenclature Committee could act under the auspices of the AC and PC, provided it is not subject to their approval. She also suggested ensuring continuity by electing a Chair for a fixed time period and opposed increasing meeting frequency. Finally, she supported the committees’ recommendation that no ongoing review process is necessary in the future.
On Friday, SC Chair Maquieira presented the report of the External Evaluation Working Group (SC54 Com. 3), noting it will continue to work intersessionally. The SC adopted the report without amendment.
In the report, the SC highlights that the scientific committees achieved a generally high level of performance in the high-priority tasks assigned to them despite limited resources, and offers suggestions for improvement. It further notes that some amendments to Conf. 11.1 (Rev CoP13) (Establishment of committees) and other resolutions and decisions will be necessary, and that no future periodic and detailed reviews will be conducted.
IMPROVING REGIONAL COMMUNICATION AND REPRESENTATION: On Tuesday, AC Chair Althaus reported that this issue had already been addressed in the self-evaluation by the scientific committees, and the SC did not consider this agenda item further.
MASTER’S COURSE ON MANAGEMENT, ACCESS AND CONSERVATION OF SPECIES IN TRADE: On Tuesday, Spain presented its report on the Master’s course on management, access and conservation of species in trade (SC54 Doc. 15), noting that specialized training had been given to 137 people from 51 countries. North America, Chile and Hungary commended the course’s positive impact on CITES implementation and Kenya proposed recognizing CITES-approved courses. The Secretariat presented its capacity-building initiative with the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, UK on a course in international wildlife trade and conservation.
The SC noted the report.
On Friday, the SC noted the following reports of regional representatives: Africa (SC54 Doc. 43.1), Asia (SC54 Doc. 43.2 (Rev. 1)), Central and South America and the Caribbean (SC54 Doc. 43.3 (Rev. 1)), Europe (SC54 Doc. 43.4), North America (SC54 Doc. 43.5) and Oceania (SC54 Doc. 43.6).
INTERPRETATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION
REVIEW OF RESOLUTIONS AND DECISIONS: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the proposed revisions of COP resolutions and decisions (SC54 Doc. 16 (Rev. 1)), noting their intention to streamline the soft law of the Convention. On Conf 11.3 (Rev CoP13) (Compliance and enforcement), Japan opposed developing a new resolution on compliance guidelines, while the EU said the issue should be considered at COP-15 and not COP-14. On Conf 12.3 (Rev CoP13) (Permits and certificates), North America, supported by many, said the removal of purpose codes from permits and certificates for Appendix II- and III-species is premature. She also opposed consolidation of resolutions on captive breeding and animal hybrids, noting that hybrids exist in the wild. The EU preferred updating, rather than deleting, references to numbers of sharks listed in the appendices in Conf. 12.6 (Conservation and management of sharks), with IUCN noting that 20% of shark species are listed as globally threatened on the IUCN Red List. SSN questioned whether the proposed amendment to Conf. 8.4 (National laws for the implementation of the Convention) eliminates the requirement for parties to report on their national laws to the COP.
SPECIES-SPECIFIC RESOLUTIONS CONCERNING APPENDIX-I SPECIES: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced its proposal to prepare two consolidated resolutions for Appendix-I species (SC54 Doc. 17) on hunting trophies and conservation of and trade in specimens. He stressed that the consolidation process had been carried out at the request of COP-13 and is designed to streamline existing resolutions. Several delegations supported the Secretariat’s proposal, with some asking to be consulted on the process. WWF, IUCN, TRAFFIC and the SSN opposed the Secretariat’s recommendations, emphasizing the contribution of these species-specific resolutions towards conservation of species such as the great apes and tigers. Italy also preferred separate resolutions on the basis of the disparate evaluation and enforcement problems related to these species.
ANNOTATION OF VARIOUS TAXUS SPECIES: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced its proposal on annotation of various Taxus species (SC54 Doc.18), explaining that adoption by COP-13 of the proposal to include Taxus chinensis (Chinese yew), T. cuspidata (Japanese yew), T. fauna (Asian yew) and T. sumatrana (Sumatra yew) in Appendix II with an annotation excluding “whole artificially propagated plants in pots or other small containers” was contrary to the letter of the Convention, which provides that all plants of species included in Appendix II are subject to its provisions. He proposed that COP-14 delete the annotation and add text to Article VII (Exemptions) to include artificially propagated plants.
Canada, supported by Germany, Japan and the World Conservation Trust (IWMC), proposed exempting T. cuspidata and its hybrids and cultivars, noting the importance of trade in this artificially propagated taxon. Oceania stressed that trade in these artificially propagated plants have no negative impacts to wild species. The US suggested considering artificially propagated specimens separately from wild specimens.
The SC approved the proposal, requesting the Secretariat to work with Canada and China to revise the supporting statement, and the Depositary Government to submit the revised proposal for consideration at COP-14.
The Secretariat introduced this agenda item (SC54 Doc. 19 and annexes) recommending the SC forward to COP-14 for consideration as one document: the report of the CITES workshop on introduction from the sea issues contained in Annex 1; comments on the report in Annex 2; the draft COP resolution that defines “the marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any state” in Annex 3; and the draft decision establishing a working group on introduction from the sea contained in Annex 4.
Many welcomed the workshop report and recommended forwarding it to COP-14. China, supported by Conservation Force, suggested additional consultation with regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) before the discussion paper was adopted, noting it could address difficulties in making non-detriment findings (NDFs). North America, Argentina, Ghana, the US, and the European Commission (EC), supported by Conservation Force and IWMC, supported the definition contained in Annex 3. Turkey opposed references to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Ghana requested the terms of reference for the proposed working group and, supported by the EU and China, suggested it include RFMOs, FAO and UNCLOS. The EU proposed expanding participation in the working group. North America, supported by the EC, suggested considering the process for issuing an “introduction from the sea” certificate. The EC, supported by the International Environmental Law Project, requested further consideration of the definition of “transport into a state”.
The SC noted the lack of consensus on the draft resolution, and agreed that workshop participants will work through e-mail to refine the definition of “marine environment not under the jurisdiction of any state,” so that a revised discussion paper and draft resolution can be considered at COP-14.
The Secretariat introduced the document (SC54 Doc. 20), explaining it contains four recommendations based on the conclusions of the review carried out by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), at the request of COP-13, on trade in Appendix-I species. Several delegates questioned UNEP-WCMC’s conclusions that no instances were found where trade in Appendix-I species endangers wild populations, with Israel suggesting the SC ask UNEP-WCMC to redo the review.
The EU and Zambia supported the recommendation to discuss cases where UNEP-WCMC found evidence of trade in contravention of the Convention with the range states concerned and, where necessary, take action under Article VIII (Trade in Appendix I- and II-listed species).
Many delegates opposed the recommendation that the SC or COP consider action on cases where evidence of commercial trade in captive-bred species from unregistered operations has been found. Noting the Secretariat’s opinion that captive-breeding operation registers serve no purpose, Mexico stressed the value to countries of origin of registering operations and PC Chair Margarita Clemente (Spain) stressed the differences between registries of captive-bred animals and artificially propagated plants. On the role of zoos in trade, delegates were divided on whether zoos could be considered commercial operations and the Secretariat noted the difficulty of applying a general rule. Oceania emphasized the review was not intended to be utilized for enforcement, but the Secretariat pointed out the need to address illegal trade.
Several parties welcomed the recommendation that the AC and PC take the UNEP-WCMC comments into account when preparing their recommendation on production systems for COP-14 because the UNEP-WCMC report highlights confusion and misuse of source codes. Production Systems Working Group Chair Robert Gabel reported progress made on source codes at the joint AC22/PC16 meeting and that a recommendation may be submitted to COP-14 on behalf of the AC.
The SC adopted the recommendations except for the one relating to commercial trade in captive-bred species from unregistered operations, agreeing that where records indicate authorized commercial exports of captive-bred animal specimens from unregistered operations, the Secretariat should ask the parties concerned to investigate and remind them that such trade is contrary to the agreement in Conf. 12.10 (Rev CoP13) (Guidelines for Appendix I animal breeding operations for commercial purposes). It also agreed that the Secretariat should investigate the cases of anomalous records and consult with the parties concerned.
MANAGEMENT OF ANNUAL EXPORT QUOTAS: On Tuesday, Export Quota Working Group Chair Mahamat Amine (Cameroon) reported on the progress achieved in the intersessional working group (SC54 Doc. 21 (Rev. 1)), including proposed revisions to resolutions Conf. 11.17 (Rev CoP13) (National reports) and Conf. 12.3 (Rev CoP13) (Permits and certificates). He also reported that the working group did not reach consensus on: clarifying technical and administrative aspects of export quotas set by parties before their publication on the CITES website; and specifying the total number or quantity of specimens already exported in the current year on export permits.
The US welcomed the working group report and expressed hope that outstanding issues will be resolved before COP-14. Germany expressed concern about the Secretariat publishing the same annual export quotas before they have been revised by parties, noting that quotas should be based on NDFs. Malaysia stressed that quotas are a voluntary mechanism. Oceania favored voluntary disclosure of the total numbers of exported specimens by parties, while the SSN advocated for mandatory disclosure.
ELECTRONIC PERMITTING: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the document (SC54 Doc. 22), noting the issue had been addressed in the intersessional Electronic Permitting Working Group. He said electronic permitting seeks to reduce transaction costs and increase transparency and predictability of trade.
Working Group Chair Giuseppe Frenguelli (Italy) reported that the group agreed to request information from parties on their current levels of technology development with regard to electronic permitting and existing national systems. Germany suggested conducting online research on existing electronic permitting systems and extending the mandate of the working group beyond COP-14. Malaysia and Kenya supported enhancement of CITES implementation through electronic permitting. Iran highlighted the “digital divide” challenge. The US favored a “go slow” approach to avoid developing an incompatible system.
The SC noted the report.
IDENTIFICATION MANUAL: On Tuesday, the Secretariat reported on the identification manual (SC54 Doc. 23), noting the database will soon be available on the CITES website. Canada said an identification guide for falcons, along with other guides, would be completed in 2007.
The SC noted the report.
GREAT APES: The Secretariat introduced this agenda item (SC54 Doc. 24) on Wednesday. Reporting on the CITES/GRASP technical mission to Indonesia, he emphasized combating illicit trade in relation to great apes and said the mission report had not been made public as it identified a number of serious concerns that could be exploited by criminal elements. Noting Indonesia’s response now indicates progress in enforcement, he proposed Indonesia be given six months to carry out further action and that a decision on further measures be deferred to COP-14.
Indonesia reported on national activities on orang-utan conservation, highlighting participation in the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), and noting it is generating momentum for strengthening national law enforcement. Cameroon, the current GRASP Council Chair, reported on national great ape conservation activities and welcomed the recent decision of South Africa and Malaysia to return four gorillas to Cameroon. Malaysia spoke on the national development of DNA printing for orang-utan species and welcomed the tentatively scheduled CITES/GRASP technical mission. Thailand noted his government’s intention to repatriate orang-utans to Malaysia. The Secretariat underscored the burden on range states of housing rescued orang-utans, highlighting the 900 orang-utans in rescue centers in Indonesia. The EU commended the establishment of the CITES Great Apes Task Force, and the Secretariat announced it would meet from 31 October-2 November 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya, and that Interpol and the World Customs Organization would participate.
The SC noted the report and requested that Indonesia report to the Secretariat by 31 March 2007, on its enforcement work on illicit trade in orang-utans after which the Secretariat should report to COP-14 to enable the COP to determine whether additional measures were necessary.
TIGER: The SC addressed this agenda item on Wednesday, agreeing to defer the issue to COP-14 and explore a technical workshop on CITES implementation before then. In its discussion on enforcement matters on Friday, the SC agreed China would report on tiger enforcement actions by January 2007, which would be followed by a verification mission and report to COP-14.
The Secretariat introduced the report (SC54 Doc. 25.1), which proposes a high-level meeting in early 2007, to be reported on at COP-14, between ministers of environment and justice, police commissioners and heads of customs from tiger range states, who would commit, through a ministerial declaration, to making tigers a political and law enforcement priority.
The US then introduced its report on illegal trade in tigers (SC54 Doc. 25.2 (Rev. 1)), which recommends: establishing parameters to measure range states’ progress in combating the international tiger parts trade; reporting by range states on outreach and enforcement 60 days before SC-55; reviewing progress reports at SC-55 and recommending a trade suspension if progress is insufficient; and sending diplomatic missions to states with insufficient progress in order to raise the priority of illegal tiger trade issues.
During discussions on both documents, China and India said they had the political will but faced implementation challenges, with China favoring a technical workshop on implementation instead of a high-level meeting. The EU and Israel supported a high-level meeting, with the EU suggesting Conf. 12.5 (Conservation of and trade in tigers) provided a basis for the declaration and WWF and others suggesting it include law enforcement decision-makers. Israel said the ministerial and technical meetings could proceed together.
The Secretariat added CITES would monitor progress towards the declaration’s commitments and report non-compliance to the COP or SC for appropriate action and the SC agreed to review indicators as part of the technical workshop.
Conservation Force urged establishment of a legal trade regime, coupled with effective enforcement, to reduce pressure on tiger populations. Animal Trust Fund of India said reopening tiger trade by consuming nations should be addressed. Asia requested a closed meeting to provide additional enforcement information.
The EU proposed, and the SC agreed, to combine the proposals contained in the Secretariat’s report and the US submission for consideration at COP-14. Delegates then debated whether to postpone the decision, with China, Japan and India agreeing, and WWF and IFAW opposing, saying the situation was urgent and offering to provide financial support for a technical workshop before the COP.
ELEPHANTS: The SC considered this agenda item from Wednesday until Friday in plenary and several informal consultations, approving on Friday the designation of Japan as a trading partner for ivory stockpiles from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, with any issues of concern to be brought to the attention of SC-55. The SC however found that the MIKE baseline information, which is a pre-condition for ivory sales, was incomplete and deferred the issue to SC-55.
Control of trade in African elephant ivory: The Secretariat introduced the document (SC54 Doc. 26.1 (Rev. 1)), noting that progress on the implementation of the Elephant Action Plan adopted at COP-13 has been slower than anticipated and urging range states’ cooperation. The Secretariat further reported concerns regarding Zimbabwe’s non-commercial exports of ivory carvings and domestic ivory use in Egypt and Thailand. On verification of possible trading partners for the one-off sale of ivory stockpiles from Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the Secretariat recommended Japan and abstained from providing a recommendation regarding China, noting that while the country’s domestic control system meets the requirements contained in COP resolution Conf. 10.10 (Trade in elephant specimens), it does not address wider aspects of ivory trade.
In the ensuing discussions, Botswana encouraged cooperation between producer and consumer countries. Namibia, supported by South Africa and Zambia, stressed that the debate should not deviate from the verification of the potential trading partners, noting that Japan meets the conditions. Tanzania, Iceland, IWMC and the Japan Ivory Association also supported ivory stockpiles sales, emphasizing the balance between conservation and livelihoods and cautioning that delays in authorizing legal trade may promote ivory trafficking. Cameroon highlighted challenges in law enforcement against ivory trafficking, and the Democratic Republic of Congo advocated for a compensation system for countries that destroy their existing ivory stockpiles. Zimbabwe reported on measures to enforce domestic controls, including the voluntary suspension of ivory auctions, and stressed conservation benefits of sustainable trade in natural resources. Thailand reported on national wildlife law enforcement activities, including on ivory trade.
Kenya opposed the sale, emphasizing income generation from live elephants. Israel noted with concern apparent intensification of illegal ivory trade. TRAFFIC reported increasing seizures and resurgence of illegal ivory markets, and urged punitive action against parties that do not report on compliance measures. IFAW, opposed by Zimbabwe, proposed that the SC: reject Japan and China as potential trading partners; recommend suspension of trade with Zimbabwe; undertake verification missions; and prepare a proposal for COP-14 to transfer Zimbabwe’s elephant population to CITES Appendix I.
Japan said it had fully complied with CITES requirements. China highlighted its efforts in combating illegal ivory trade, noting it is a global problem, and urged the SC to recognize it as a trading partner for ivory stockpiles. CITES Secretary-General Wijnstekers clarified that the SC decision does not mean opening trade but designates Japan as a trading partner, and that until MIKE baseline information has been approved there will be no trade.
After informal consultations, the SC debated a compromise proposal presented by SC Chair Maquieira on designating Japan as a trading partner, and directed the Secretariat to provide an update on the situation at SC-55. Several parties subsequently expressed concern with the proposal and requested clarification on whether it provides for a final or provisional approval, with North America asking for assurance that the reservations raised during the course of SC-54 will be addressed in the Secretariat’s update, and Ghana suggesting establishment of a body to work with the Secretariat on its update. Japan said only a final approval would be accepted. China asked for equal treatment with Japan. Discussions were again suspended.
On Friday, Ghana reported on informal consultations regarding oversight of the Secretariat’s update to SC-55 on the decision to designate Japan as a trading partner. SC Chair Maquieira presented two texts saying that both provided for the Secretariat’s update to take into account of new information and address all concerns raised during SC-54 discussions, but that the first provided for the Secretariat to bring to the attention of the SC-55 any information relevant to the trading status of Japan, and the second, drafted by Kenya, and opposed by Japan and Zambia, provided that the SC will review the information provided and will determine whether there is any reason for review of Japan as a trading partner. Namibia, supported by South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, stressed the SC should confine the decision at SC-55 to the verification of potential trading partners.
Kenya stressed the decision to designate Japan was subject to certain requirements and emphasized transparency. He agreed to withdraw his text provided that the SC will be given the opportunity to review the information provided by the Secretariat.
The SC agreed to designate Japan as a trading partner, with any issues of concern to be brought to the attention of SC-55, and noted Kenya’s position. The SC also agreed to encourage Zimbabwe to maintain its voluntary suspension on its ivory auctions.
MIKE baseline information: The Secretariat introduced its report (SC54 Doc 26.2 (Rev. 1)), noting the SC-53 requirement that MIKE baseline information be complete and meet specific conditions prior to allowing Botswana, Namibia and South Africa to make a one-off sale of their registered ivory stockpiles. He said baseline information was complete for 45 sites in Africa and 18 in South Asia, and that data for six sites in South East Asia would be completed in early 2007.
Patrick Omondi (Kenya), speaking as Chair of the MIKE Elephant Trade Information System programme (MIKE-ETIS) Sub-group, presented its report (SC54 Doc. 26.4), noting MIKE baseline information was submitted late and incomplete, and should be completed prior to a decision on ivory sales. This position was supported by the EU, the US, Cameroon, India and several NGOs. The US further noted the remaining gaps in MIKE baseline information are in Asia, where the elephant status is even more precarious, and Kenya highlighted an upsurge in elephant poaching following the 1999 experimental ivory sale. Israel opposed consideration of this document due to its late submission.
Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, supported by Tanzania, IWMC and Safari Club International Foundation, said MIKE baseline information was substantially complete and urged a positive decision on ivory sales. HSI noted that the COP required complete MIKE baseline data as an important safeguard to one-off ivory sales. The EU said all conditions of the COP decision should be met to avoid setting a bad precedent. The DSWF questioned the validity of MIKE baseline data in both Africa and Asia, noting, inter alia, the bias of site selection to protected areas, lack of peer-review, and out-of-date information that did not include recent seizures and trends.
Ghana pointed to the outcome of the Symposium on African Elephant Conservation it hosted in August 2006 that advocated a total ban on ivory sales and returning the elephant to Appendix I for all countries. Tanzania and Zambia questioned the validity of the Symposium’s outcome given lack of participation by southern African countries. Namibia asked the SC to make a provisional decision, subject to verification on provision of missing data and peer review. The SC opposed, instead agreeing to revisit this issue at SC-55.
Funding of and administrative arrangements for MIKE: The Secretariat reported on the status of funding and outlined the new administrative arrangements for the MIKE programme, including its integration into the Secretariat and plans for subregional units (SC54 Doc. 26.3). He noted it is the largest externally funded activity of the Secretariat, emphasized that Conf. 10.10 provides that MIKE must become self-sufficient at the national level and stressed the need for an enabling institutional structure. On securing the programme’s future, he said that while the EU grant secures its future in Africa, long-term funding had not yet been secured for operations in Asia, and urged support from donors.
In ensuing discussions, MIKE-ETIS Sub-group Chair Omondi lamented the lack of consultation with the Sub-group on the new administrative and institutional arrangements, and called for clarification of the Sub-group’s terms of reference. Secretary-General Wijnstekers reiterated that the decision to integrate the programme within the Secretariat and house it within UNEP was based on the need for it to become self-funding. IUCN reported on the status of the draft MoU between the Secretariat and IUCN. The EU urged transparency, and the DSWF urged financial planning and strategic vision.
The SC noted the report.
RHINOCEROSES: On Friday, the Secretariat reported on IUCN and TRAFFIC research on African and Asian rhinoceros conservation and trade (SC54 Doc. 27 and annex) to assist in preparing a draft resolution for COP-14. The report addressed: indicators, potential links with MIKE, rhinoceros horn stockpiles, seizures, poaching, and progress reporting.
TIBETAN ANTELOPE: On Friday, the Secretariat presented its review of enforcement and related activities regarding Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) (SC54 Doc. 28), noting India’s positive response and the impracticality of captive breeding.
India reported on its legal and enforcement activities, which Wildlife Trust of India commended as a good example of an importing country supporting conservation in a producing one. India also reported on consultations with an expert group that was unable to make recommendations regarding wool (shahtoosh) harvesting without killing the animals or captive breeding. China said its Tibetan antelope populations had increased but that poaching continued. Thailand noted the prosecution of a recent seizure. The US said its Endangered Species Act listing of the species strengthened its ability to stop illegal imports. Japan said it prohibited commercial trade and noted its public awareness initiatives to reduce demand.
The SC noted the report.
SAIGA ANTELOPE: On Friday, the Secretariat reported on implementation progress of the CITES saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) listing, highlighting initial signs of population recovery and the entering into force of the CMS MoU on Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use of Saiga Antelope.
The SC agreed to request that Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and Singapore report on implementation of decisions 13.27 to 13.35 (Saiga antelope). Japan reported on its stockpiles of saiga products, and the Republic of Korea said no illegal transactions in saiga or its products have been recorded recently. The SC also requested SC Chair Maquieira to write to the Russian authorities and urge the Russian Federation to sign the MoU.
STURGEONS AND PADDLEFISH: The SC discussed this agenda item in plenary on Wednesday and Thursday, when SC Chair Maquieira established a Working Group on Sturgeons and Paddlefish. The SC also agreed to withdraw the recommendation to suspend trade in four Caspian Sea sturgeon species. On Friday, the SC agreed for the working group to continue working intersessionally and approved its terms of reference, but rejected the proposal of several Caspian range states for the Secretariat to revisit the issue of 2006 caviar export quotas.
Report of the Secretariat: The Secretariat presented the report (SC54 Doc. 30.1), noting that 2006 was the first year for which the procedure on approval and publication of quotas adopted at COP-13 was fully applied. He said the Secretariat did not publish quotas for Caspian sturgeon species since reports by range states indicated decline in stocks, but parties did not adjust their quotas or take into account illegal offtake.
He reported that the database of permits and trade records had been developed in collaboration with UNEP-WCMC to track caviar trade and proposed the SC urge parties to routinely submit permits to enable the database to be operative. On the RST, he reported on the evaluation of regional conservation strategies and management regimes based on a three-year cycle commencing in 2006.
The Secretariat also recommended, and the SC agreed, to withdraw the recommendation to suspend trade in specimens of Acipenser gueldenstaedtii (Russian sturgeon), A. nudiventris (ship sturgeon), A. stellatus (star sturgeon) and Huso huso (beluga sturgeon) from the Caspian Sea stocks of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan, given that range states have complied with SC and RST recommendations. The EU supported the recommendation, Iran proposed field missions to look into illegal trade and socioeconomic issues, and China requested technical assistance in establishing quotas.
Conclusions of the International Sturgeon Enforcement Workshop to Combat Illegal Trade in Caviar: The EC reported on the recommendations of the workshop (SC54 Doc. 30.2) held in Brussels, Belgium, from 27-29 June 2006, which included: improving international cooperation of CITES management authorities; promoting labeling systems and consequently amending Conf. 13.7 (Control of trade in personal and household effects) and Conf. 12.7 (Household effects); reminding parties of their obligations to report on export and re-export of caviar; and establishing a restricted Internet forum on caviar trade for enforcement personnel. In closing, he noted that many of the workshop recommendations are suggestions for action by parties and other participants rather than decisions for the SC or the COP. The Secretariat noted that a restricted Internet forum had been established.
In the ensuing discussion, Iran welcomed the report, inviting the EU to adopt stricter policies and to extend its assistance to control the problem at its origin. The US supported the recommendation to reduce re-export periods and the personal use exemption. The International Caviar Importers Association noted quotas help control the black market and thus help wild sturgeon conservation.
The SC noted the report.
Caviar export quotas for the Caspian Sea basin for 2006: Kazakhstan, together with Iran and Azerbaijan, presented the document (SC54 Doc 30.3 and annex). He questioned the methodology and information upon which the Secretariat’s decision not to publish caviar export quotas for 2006 was based, and requested that the SC recommend that the Secretariat publish export quotas by 20 October 2006.
The Secretariat clarified that its decision not to publish quotas was not a trade ban per se but rather a recommendation to importing countries that they decline consignments, and noted that it cannot reopen quotas for 2006 because the deadline for publishing them (1 January 2006) had already passed.
HSI and Seaweb opposed the proposal to publish export quotas in 2006, with Seaweb urging the Secretariat to ensure the use of scientifically valid and internationally accepted stock assessment methods. Iran noted the common objective of long-term conservation of the species and requested flexibility in 2006 so that livelihood issues could be taken into account. IWMC suggested the working group consider discussion on the locus of authority to issue quotas, which currently rests with the Secretariat.
AC Chair Althaus clarified the status of the annex, noting it was an informal discussion group’s report and that it had no mandate from the AC. The Secretariat suggested delegates not consider it in their remarks and China said they should be able to do so. The Russian Federation opposed creating an independent scientific commission to oversee stock assessments for Caspian Sea sturgeon, noting that the equivalent already exists. FAO said an independent review is standard practice.
On Friday in plenary, the Russian Federation, on behalf of Iran, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and supported by China, requested the SC instruct the Secretariat to reconsider its decision not to publish export quotas for 2006, with Secretary-General Wijnstekers stressing the Secretariat had acted in conformity with Conf. 12.7 (Rev CoP13) (Sturgeons and paddlefish).
SC Chair Maquieira put the proposal before the SC, with the US objecting on the grounds it lacked the authority from the COP to overturn the Secretariat’s action. After review, SC Chair Maquieira agreed and withdrew the proposal from SC consideration.
Strategy for sturgeon conservation: The Russian Federation presented its proposed strategy (SC54 Doc. 30.4), noting: development and enactment of national legislation on sturgeon conservation; new methods for stock assessment indicating that Caspian sturgeon stocks are higher than previous estimates; and advances in addressing illegal trade through DNA identification. He recommended that the SC reconsider the Secretariat’s decision and adopt caviar export quotas for 2006 and extend their application until 1 July 2007, and the Secretariat organize workshops on legislation and stock assessment for range states.
The Secretariat noted that Conf. 12.7 includes a provision for the development of a unified system on DNA identification. IUCN reported on a recent workshop on identification of specimens of Acipenseriformes in trade, noting that, at present, no single technique can answer all identification-related questions.
On Friday in plenary, Germany reported on the working group meeting outcomes, noting participants from range states, importing regions and NGOs agreed to reduce the personal use exemption to 125 grams and require labeling. The SC agreed for the working group to continue intersessionally.
Bigleaf mahogany: On Thursday, the Secretariat introduced the agenda item (SC54 Doc. 31.1), noting it was withdrawing its recommendation to subject bigleaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) to the RST process. He also proposed that, in light of concerns regarding the implementation of CITES listing of mahogany in Peru, parties not authorize imports of mahogany from Peru and that SC-55 review the situation.
PC Chair Clemente said the Secretariat’s document does not reflect the complexity of discussions at PC-16 and expressed regret that its decision not to subject mahogany to an RST had been questioned. She reported on activities in mahogany range states to implement Appendix-II listing and PC-16 recommendations (SC54 Inf. 8).
Peru noted that consideration of this issue at SC-54 is in violation of the Rules of Procedure set out in Conf. 11.3 (Rev. CoP13) (Compliance and enforcement) and Conf. 12.8 (Rev. CoP13) (RST). He emphasized his country’s commitment to fully implement the Convention’s provisions and develop a Bigleaf Mahogany Action Plan and reported on national activities to implement the CITES listing.
Mexico, speaking as the incoming Chair of the intersessional Bigleaf Mahogany Working Group, noted joint preparation with the PC of a January 2007 expert meeting to elaborate NDF guidelines for bigleaf mahogany. North America, supported by Central and South America, the EU, Japan and others, agreed with the PC report, noting it reflected a consensus on action between range and importing states. Malaysia and Brazil opposed a trade suspension, with Malaysia noting parties should have an opportunity to demonstrate compliance first. Defenders of Wildlife and other NGOs urged the SC to take immediate action to stem illegal trade.
The US, supported by the EU, suggested the SC identify specific actions that Peru must take by SC-55, with SC-55 reconsidering the issue and, if compliance is deemed unsatisfactory, recommending a trade ban at COP-14. The SC requested the Secretariat to visit Peru to review progress and report to SC-55.
Ramin: The Secretariat introduced the document (SC54 Doc. 31.2) and, highlighting the Secretariat’s concern about Malaysia’s continuing harvesting of ramin (Gonystylus spp.) in the state of Sarawak and the levels of quotas submitted for 2006, invited comments from Malaysia. Malaysia outlined the activities of the state of Sarawak in relation to ramin, including the establishment of three protected areas to allow its natural regeneration and reduction in logging in peat swamp forest. He informed the SC that the 2006 quotas submitted to the Secretariat were derived from partial NDFs done in December 2004, and reassured the SC that the 2007 quotas would be lower.
Indonesia, on behalf of the Tri-National Task Force on Ramin, and Italy, Japan, China, the UK and the US reported on actions taken to address illegal trade in ramin. The UK spoke on research commencing on an effective DNA-based timber identification method, stressing its possible contribution to CITES implementation on timber. The EU urged Malaysia to significantly lower 2007 quotas and proposed a further review at future SC meetings. Several NGOs emphasized problems in relation to illegal trade in Malaysia, Indonesia and China and urged uplisting ramin to Appendix I, suspending trade with Malaysia in CITES-listed ramin species and retaining species on the agenda. Following a request from TRAFFIC, Malaysia underscored the scientific basis of their NDF, and said the Secretariat should act as a facilitative not a punitive body.
The SC agreed to continue the request to these countries to report to future SCs, asked Malaysia to submit its report on its 2006 quotas to the Secretariat and agreed to revisit the issue at SC-56 in 2008.
ANNUAL REPORTS ON RANCHING OPERATIONS: On Friday, the Secretariat reported on ranching in specimens transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II, and presented its recommendations to the SC (SC54 Doc. 32) to: authorize the Secretariat visit and examine the ranching programme for the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) in Madagascar; note the amendments to the reporting requirements in COP resolution Conf. 11.16 (Ranching and trade in ranched specimens of species transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II); and note the evaluation of production systems that is being undertaken by the AC and PC for consideration at COP-14, which may result in significant changes to Conf. 11.16.
Germany supported amendments to reporting requirements and, noting non-compliance in Uganda, Ecuador and Malawi, requested the Secretariat to notify these range states that, in the absence of reporting, the SC will consider re-transfer of their crocodile populations into Appendix I. South Africa said it does not practice ranching and, therefore, did not submit a report. Indonesia supported the Secretariat’s proposal to simplify reporting requirements. Pro-Wildlife requested maintaining reporting requirements on estimates of wild population, mortality rates in captivity, and scientific experiments. Mexico opposed the proposal to combine COP resolutions Conf. 9.24 (Criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II) and Conf. 11.16, stressing a specific ranching resolution should be kept separate. The SC approved the recommendations as amended.
EXEMPTIONS AND SPECIAL TRADE PROVISIONS
PERSONAL AND HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS: On Friday, Cheung Chi-sun (Hong Kong), Personal and Household Effects Working Group Chair, introduced the report (SC54 Doc. 33), noting it will consult by e-mail and then submit a recommendation on legislation and practice related to personal and household effects to SC-55 for consideration at COP-14. He appealed for party-specific information, and the SC noted the report.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EX SITU PRODUCTION AND IN SITU CONSERVATION: On Friday, Colman O’Criodain (Ireland), SC Clearing House, presented its report (SC54 Doc. 34), which recommends the SC put forward a proposal to COP-14 for an independent study providing recommendations on maximizing benefits and minimizing risks of ex situ production. The study would then be reviewed by the SC, AC and PC prior to COP-15.
The EU, the US and Mexico, supported by AC Chair Althaus, agreed with the proposed independent study and said the COP should be consulted on the use of the Trust Fund to finance it. Oceania, supported by the SSN, said the Trust Fund’s scarce resources would be better spent on illegal trade and enforcement, and both suggested changes to the terms of reference for the study. WWF and others cautioned against tiger farming.
GENERAL COMPLIANCE ISSUES
GUIDELINES FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE CONVENTION: This agenda item was introduced in plenary on Wednesday when a drafting group was established. Einar Tallaksen (Norway), intersessional Compliance Guidelines Working Group Chair, presented the draft guidelines (SC54 Doc. 35). He noted the positive, non-adversarial approach to non-compliance issues and welcomed participation by other delegates.
Japan, supported by Malaysia, underscored that compliance mechanisms should be supportive and not punitive, and did not fall solely under the SC. The DSWF, on behalf of IFAW, noted the current system’s success and that the guidelines provide information, and that they should not establish a new system.
On Friday, Working Group Chair Tallaksen reported on the outcomes of the drafting group held during SC-54, noting lack of consensus on a number of issues, including their objective, the role of the SC, the issuance of declaration of non-compliance, and specific measures. He said the guidelines are descriptive of current procedures and not prescriptive. The SC agreed the Working Group would continue to work intersessionally and submit revised guidelines for consideration at COP-14.
NATIONAL LAWS FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONVENTION: On Friday, the Secretariat reported on progress (SC54 Doc. 36), noting 73 parties and territories had sufficient and 100 had insufficient legislation. It recommended the SC: review, at SC-55, legislative progress in Mozambique, South Africa and other parties that reported at SC-53; issue formal cautions to parties that do not provide written progress reports; maintain Nigeria’s trade suspension; recommend trade suspensions in Paraguay; issue a formal caution to Thailand; and consider providing assistance to countries with long-term trade suspensions.
Thailand, Cameroon, the US and India provided progress reports. Thailand requested, and the Secretariat agreed, not to issue a formal caution. Cameroon requested that it be recognized as having sufficient legislation. The EU and Oceania supported the recommendations, with the EU suggesting working through diplomatic channels of countries and Oceania suggesting regional assistance to parties with long-term trade suspensions.
The SC accepted the recommendations as amended.
STRICTER DOMESTIC MEASURES: On Friday, the Secretariat introduced its report on stricter domestic measures (SC54 Doc. 37 (Rev. 1)), noting parties have the right to adopt stricter domestic measures but that application had varied. He recommended submission of a discussion document to COP-14 and review of existing resolutions to ensure consistent application.
The EU, supported by Oceania, Tanzania and Switzerland, supported the discussion document but opposed the review of resolutions, noting the revision process could occur later. North America, supported by Israel and the International Environmental Law Project, opposed both recommendations.
ENFORCEMENT MATTERS: On Friday, the Secretariat introduced the agenda item on enforcement matters (SC54 Doc. 38), which reported on: ASEAN-WEN; “Operation Dove” to stop diplomats’ abuse of their status for wildlife trafficking; and enforcement issues in sturgeon, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. The Secretariat recommended encouraging Management Authorities to nominate appropriate persons to attend specialized meetings and developing enforcement action plans. Noting significant illegal trade in orang-utans in Cambodia, he proposed reporting to COP-14 if Cambodia continued to be uncooperative.
Noting serious concerns on illegal tiger parts trade in China, he recommended China report on enforcement actions by January 2007, followed by a verification mission and a report to COP-14. China noted its public awareness efforts, saying demand had been reduced significantly, and announced an upcoming enforcement action. The US, supported by TRAFFIC, agreed with the recommendation for a technical mission and suggested it include other range states. The DSWF urged submission of enforcement reports and monitoring of action plans.
The SC adopted the recommendations.
NATIONAL REPORTS: On Friday, the Secretariat introduced the summary of national report submissions (SC-54 Doc. 39), inviting the SC to determine whether the Comoros, Mongolia, Sao Tome and Principe and Uganda failed to provide annual reports without justification and, therefore, whether trade in CITES-listed species from these countries should be suspended.
He also recalled continuing trade suspensions in Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Somalia. Noting civil strife in Somalia, Kenya encouraged liaising with its diplomatic mission in Geneva to facilitate communication and also proposed deferring decision on Uganda until SC-55 since this country has indicated forthcoming submission of its report. Ghana questioned Guinea-Bissau’s continuing trade suspension and the Secretariat clarified that, while it had submitted its report, progress on legislative matters remained insufficient.
WILDLIFE TRADE POLICIES: On Friday, the Secretariat introduced the agenda item (SC54 Doc. 40 (Rev.1)) reporting on progress on implementing national wildlife trade policy reviews. He highlighted the selection of four pilot countries and finalization of a methodological framework and recommended the SC encourage interested importing countries to carry out reviews. He also invited financial support.
The SC took note of the report.
ECONOMIC INCENTIVES: On Friday, the Secretariat introduced the document on economic incentives (SC54 Doc. 41). He highlighted information-sharing workshops, benefits of trade to wildlife and livelihoods, and the role of the private sector. He further outlined the recommendations to: consider ways to recognize and reward good practices and hold a sustainable trade forum in parallel with COP-14 as a side event not organized by the Secretariat, for the private sector, local communities and others to share information.
China reported on the Cape Town Workshop on 5-7 September 2006, organized by Fauna and Flora International and others, which emphasized the importance of livelihoods for developing countries. The EU and Namibia supported the recommendations while Oceania opposed and Argentina noted other forums, such as the CBD, deal with economic incentives. The US called for informal discussions instead of a parallel forum. The SSN stressed national action and IFAW said economic incentives should not impinge on the CITES’ priority of ensuring that trade is not detrimental to natural resources.
The SC noted the report.
PERIODIC REVIEW OF THE APPENDICES: On Friday, Mexico presented a report prepared by the AC and PC Chairs on periodic review of the appendices (SC54 Inf. 10), which outlines proposals to expedite the process for reviews of CITES listings. He noted significant delays caused by current procedures preventing Mexico from undertaking reviews and requested the proposals be forwarded to COP-14.
AC Chair Althaus said this matter was not on the SC-54 agenda and that discussions at SC-54 may prejudice the outcomes of the intersessional Periodic Review Working Group established by the AC. SC Chair Maquieira agreed and invited Mexico to present his proposal at a future SC meeting. Australia noted its concern over changes to the SC role as suggested in the information document, and proposed the SC’s role be considered at COP-14.
CLOSING OF THE MEETING
On Friday, Secretary-General Wijnstekers noted delegates’ enthusiasm during the week-long discussions, and expressed hope that the same level of enthusiasm would be shown for addressing CITES’ financial constraints. HSI thanked SC Chair Maquieira for his openness regarding NGO participation at SC-54.
The SC adopted the meeting’s executive summary (SC54 Sum. 1 to Sum. 8) ad referendum. In closing, SC Chair Maquieira highlighted the SC’s role in being the guardian of the Convention’s integrity and gaveled the meeting to a close at 6:27 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF CITES SC-54
For over 30 years, CITES has endeavored to ensure that trade and conservation are friends, and not foes. At times, this has tested the mettle of this sturdy Convention and the 54th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC-54) was no exception. SC-54’s discussions on both individual species – especially mega-fauna such as elephants and tigers – and the overarching vision of the Convention proposed in the draft CITES Strategic Plan 2008-2013 brought to the fore the inherent tension between trade and conservation.
The SC was tasked at COP-13 to prepare a new strategy to replace the “Strategic Vision through 2005,” which had been extended to 2007, and to consider, in particular, how CITES can contribute to the achievement of the global target of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. SC-54 considered this document for the first time and work will continue in an intersessional working group to finalize the document for COP-14. It did prompt debate, however, as the current text confirms parties’ recognition that sustainable trade can make a major contribution to achieving the broader sustainable development and biodiversity conservation objectives and contains a new mission statement “To conserve biodiversity and promote human development through sustainable and regulated international wildlife trade.”
Many had severe reservations about the implications of what they see as CITES departing from its core function of “preventing international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants from threatening their survival.” This brief analysis outlines the goals set out in the Strategic Plan – strengthening the implementation and the financial basis of the Convention and situating CITES within the broader biodiversity agenda – and their bearing on the future development and strategic direction of the Convention, highlighting issues likely to top the agenda at COP14.
WORKING EFFECTIVELY AND SECURING FINANCE
CITES is one of the oldest biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements and has been lauded as having a particularly effective compliance regime for translating policy into national practice. Maintaining this record in the face of increasing pressure on the world’s species through trade and a rapidly shrinking budget presents a real challenge, as the Convention’s Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers pointed out on numerous occasions. Recognizing this, the SC has been working for some time on providing guidance to the parties on strengthening the Convention’s compliance and enforcement mechanisms and practice, with initiatives such as the development of compliance guidelines, while controversial, seen as being evidence of significant progress. The draft Strategic Plan seeks to set out a framework for building on these initiatives with a series of objectives designed to enhance parties’ ability to fully implement the Convention and to promote and regulate the sustainable management of responsible trade in wild fauna and flora and through its effective enforcement. It proposes concentrating on national compliance, simplified procedures, coordination and harmonization of enforcement regimes and strengthening the SC’s role in addressing non-compliance. The SC welcomed these proposals in general and reflected this in commending enforcement initiatives such as the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network. Discussions on ensuring compliance with quotas and action plans on sturgeon and timber species, however, prompted some delegations to urge the SC to strengthen its oversight of the Secretariat, with several stressing that quotas are voluntary and that trade suspension is a last resort.
In trying to address the Convention’s financial challenges, including significant arrears in parties’ contributions, the Secretariat introduced the first costed work programme, proposing that Parties only agree to pass resolutions that have available funding. Many opposed this idea, stressing that this would lead to misguided priority setting and highlighting successes in the implementation of resolutions that had no upfront funding, such as on seahorses.
Another idea explored was the “user pays” principle already widely implemented at the national level. The response from the Secretary-General was enthusiastic. With that half a million CITES permits issued each year at no charge, the opportunities for the Convention’s budget are significant. While details of such user fees have yet to be fine-tuned, some observers suggested developing countries may bear the brunt of eventual permit fees. Others said, if handled properly, such mechanisms could generate revenue for wildlife management as well. Yet others supported leveraging sustainable development finance, such as accessing Global Environment Facility funding. Considering the urgency of finding financial solutions for CITES, these avenues are likely to be explored further.
A BALANCING ACT
Within the biodiversity arena CITES is seen primarily as a treaty dealing with sustainable trade. However, it is now facing up to the realities of the broader environment agenda reflected in the Millennium Development Goals and the global 2010 biodiversity target. While some applauded this mainstreaming of the Convention by incorporating human development into its core mission statement, others expressed reservations with this approach stressing it is better to have success in limited areas than a broad-ranging failure.
The draft Strategic Plan also highlights “compatibility” between balanced wildlife trade policies and socioeconomic and cultural issues, and indeed, SC-54 considered including livelihoods and economic impacts in decision-making on the sustainability of trade. The International Fund for Animal Welfare suggested this would be akin to opening Pandora’s box, and some parties said these issues are being addressed in other forums and warned against overstretching the Convention’s already rapidly diminishing budget and expanding agenda. The reality is, however, that CITES already deals with balancing economics and conservation on a daily basis. For example, one participant warned the decision not to revisit the 2006 caviar export quotas may jeopardize the survival of sturgeon in the wild as fingerlings are likely to be introduced into aquaculture facilities instead of the Caspian Sea.
Alongside this debate is the question of whether legal trade promotes illegal trade, with some arguing legal trade reduces demand for poaching and thus advances conservation and others cautioning that legal trade opens the door for wildlife trafficking. On numerous occasions, SC-54 debated whether to put the emphasis on combating illegal trade or creating an enabling environment for legal trade. The lengthy debates on the one-off sales of ivory stockpiles not only highlighted these concerns but also the potential benefits to conservation from income generated by such sales. The long-standing thorny question of how to strike a balance between conservation, trade and livelihoods in Africa will no doubt be taken up in June at COP-14.
Many felt that the charismatic mega-fauna, such as tigers and elephants, will continue to dominate the agenda for COP-14. Strengthening existing compliance and enforcement is also expected to be the COP’s focus, reflected in the draft Strategic Plan and the Netherlands’ announcement to organize an inaugural ministerial segment at COP-14 on enforcement, timber and fisheries. This fulfills the predictions following COP-13 that CITES will continue its efforts in regulating trade in timber and aquatic species, and the long-awaited signature of a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization is a testament to progress in this area.
Some delegates were disappointed that the SC deferred action on some pressing issues, in particular tigers, elephants and sturgeon, while others said the SC “stuck to the rules.” In this regard, SC Chair Cristian Maquieira’s closing remark on the sometimes Herculean task facing the SC in guarding the Convention’s integrity is a reflection of the increasing complexities and obstacles that CITES has to overcome in ensuring sustainable wildlife trade.
EUROPEAN REGIONAL CITES PLANTS MEETING: Organized by the Department of Plant Biology of the University of Perugia and the Italian CITES Management Authority, this meeting will take place from 18-21 October 2006, in Perugia, Italy, to review the outcomes of PC-16 and prepare for COP-14. For more information, contact: Giuseppe Frenguelli; fax: +39-075-585-6425; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.cites.org/eng/news/calendar/06europlant.pdf
CITES GREAT APES ENFORCEMENT TASK FORCE MEETING: The meeting is scheduled to take place from 31 October - 2 November 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya. It will bring together enforcement officers from range, transit and destination states, Interpol and the World Customs Organization to exchange information and devise a strategy to address illicit trade in great apes. For more information, contact: John Sellar, CITES Secretariat; tel: +41-22-917-8293; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.cites.org
9TH INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE LAW CONFERENCE: The conference is scheduled to take place on 26-27 January 2007, in Gulfport, Florida, US and will bring together representatives from the governmental, NGO and academic sectors. The conference will include panels on: Antarctic wildlife treaty regimes; the Ramsar Convention; CITES; and climate change’s impact on species and international institutional responses. For more information, contact: Wil Burns; tel: +1-650-281-9126; fax: +1-510-217-7060; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.internationalwildlifelaw.org/programs2.shtml
24TH SESSION OF THE UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL/GLOBAL MINISTERIAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM: This meeting will take place from 5-9 February 2007, in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, contact: Secretary for UNEP Governing Council; tel: +254-20-762-1234; fax: +254-20- 762-4489/90; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.unep.org
SECOND INTERNATIONAL AGARWOOD CONFERENCE: This meeting, which is organized by the Rainforest Project Foundation (TRPF), will be held from 4-11 March 2007, in Bangkok, Thailand. For more information, contact: TRPF, tel: +31-20-624-8508 fax: +31-20-624-0588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.therainforestproject.net/conf2.htm
14TH MEETING OF THE CMS SCIENTIFIC COUNCIL: This meeting of the Convention on Migratory Species’ Scientific Council will take place from 14-17 March 2007, in Bonn, Germany, and is being organized by the CMS Secretariat. For more information, contact: CMS Secretariat; tel: +49-228-815-2401/02; fax: +49-228-815 2449; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.cms.int/bodies/ScC_mainpage.htm
2007 INTERNATIONAL BIODIVERSITY DAY: Celebrated on 22 May 2007, the 2007 International Biodiversity Day will focus on biodiversity and climate change. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.biodiv.org/programmes/outreach/awareness/biodiv-day-2007.shtml
SC-55: SC-55 will be held on 2 June 2007, in The Hague, the Netherlands, immediately prior to COP-14. For more information, contact: CITES Secretariat; tel: +41-22-917-8139; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.cites.org
CITES COP-14: CITES
COP-14 will be held from 3-15 June 2007, in The Hague, the
Netherlands. The COP will consider proposals to amend the
and address enforcement and administrative matters. A ministerial
meeting organized by the host government will be held in conjunction
COP-14, with the focus on enforcement issues and trade in timber
and fisheries. For more information, contact:
tel: +41-22-917-8139; fax: +41-22-797-3417; e-mail: