The Good, the Bad and the Endangered: Wildlife Wins and Losses at CITES Standing Committee

Stephen Wiggins Article Leave a Comment

Banner image courtesy of the Environmental Investigation Agency

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has reported from the 69th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC69) in Geneva, Switzerland.

What is striking is the level of prevarication evident within CITES – endless further reporting  needed when the negative facts are already documented and staring CITES in the face:

Cultivating Demand

  1. The illegal tiger farming (“Cultivating Demand – The Growing Threat of Tiger Farms,” EIA, November 2017) China, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos – not to mention how the demand for tiger parts (for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)) is being driven by South Africa’s CITES approved lion bone trade from ‘captive’ bred lions;
  2. Ivory – EIA reported that “Japan and Singapore” need to “commit to more robust actions to address their role in the ivory trade” (absolutely) and a full report by “CITES Parties to report to the next standing committee on efforts to close their domestic ivory markets” including the   European Union and United Kingdom – and of course China and Laos.
  3. A proposal at SC69 to perpetuate “the possibility of continued international trade in stockpiles of pangolin, a situation which would seriously undermine the ban and goes against both resolutions adopted by previous CoPs and a long-standing CITES precedent” – Does CITES never learn? How exactly did CITES’ release of ivory stockpiles (post-ban) help reduce elephant poaching and how will doing the same for pangolin prove to have a beneficial result this time rather than make the situation worse (as it did for elephants)?
  4. The continued non-compliance of Laos to tackle its flagrant disregard to close domestic ivory markets, tiger farms, rhino horn trade etc. – however, Laos was given more leeway at SC69 to prepare a “time bound action plan” to tackle this illicit behaviour – with “indicators to implement the CITES recommendations by June 30, 2018.”
  5. Despite Japan’s obvious ongoing defiance of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) banning commercial whaling in 1986 and Japan’s failure to abide by the 31 March 2014 ruling from the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Japan to stop hunting whales off Antarctica, CITES SC69 “ultimately decided more information is needed and requested that Japan invite CITES to undertake a technical mission to gain more insight into the situation.” What more damning evidence and Japan’s lack of recognition of the international rule of law is CITES expecting to uncover? Japan is not conducting “scientific research” (sic) but is continuing to conduct commercial whaling in defiance of the international law.

Graphic Japanese whaling footage released after five-year legal battle – video, The Guardian, 28 November 2017 

CITES panders to trade in endangered species, but appears incapable of prompt recognition and decisive action when faced with the negative consequences of CITES first actively stimulating such trade/demand.

The full EIA summary from the 69th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee (SC69) can be read from this link.


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