Qinghai, China © Tanya Rosen

 Qinghai, China © Tanya Rosen

Participants at the 74th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES SC74) continued to play catch up with the agenda.

The discussion on the Review of the Rules of Procedure of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) turned contentious. A working group had met to address concerns pertaining to Rule 25.6 on changing the order in which proposals are decided from “least to most” and the discretion of the Chair to change the order in exceptional circumstances, which raised issues of lack of transparency. SC Chair Carolina Caceres concluded the SC should forward the group’s recommendations to the CoP noting that full agreement wasn’t reached on those issues. Indonesia and China disagreed, as no consensus was reached and said the SC should filter what goes to the CoP.

Chair Caceres clarified that the SC had a mandate to present “something” to the CoP and proposed two options. The first, backed by Senegal, the EU, Oceania and Israel, was to present the outcomes of the working group's discussions, recognizing there was no consensus on those two points, but there was general agreement, including on making sure all proposals are presented. The second was to note the SC did not feel comfortable with the working group's recommendations and to thus not put forward changes to Rule 25.6, as favored by Indonesia, China, Namibia, Peru, and Kuwait.

Israel, supported by Senegal, subsequently called for an official vote on what should be presented to the CoP. Senegal, the EU, Georgia, Israel, Poland, Oceania, North America and Congo voted to bring forward the amendment of Rule 25.6 for discussion by the CoP, while China, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru, Ethiopia and Namibia voted against. Japan lamented the voting and hoped the spirit of compromise could be kept for future decisions.

SC74 also tackled a Big Cats packed agenda:

  • On Asian big catsthe UK stressed that much work was still needed to update the decisions of CoP18 and, with the US, called for missions to be carried out in the short term, with the correct expertise present, and urged parties to work closely with the Secretariat to facilitate such missions. Poland called for countries to cooperate on law enforcement on illegal trade.
  • On African lions, the Secretariat noted that some activities hadn’t been completed because of lack of funds and the cancellation of meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants discussed a number of initiatives including the CITES-Convention on Migratory Species African Carnivores Initiative.
  • On jaguars, the Secretariat presented the main findings and conclusions of the jaguar study and draft decisions on illegal trade in jaguars. Peru, Panama, Brazil, and Argentina illustrated national activities pertaining to jaguars. China underscored that the seizure of jaguar specimens nationally is rare and lamented negative mentions of China in the report.
  • On illegal trade in cheetah, Ethiopia noted the issue had been on the CITES radar for nearly ten years yet trade continues to jeopardize declining populations. He called for swift action to avoid the species going extinct. Many, including Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea, illustrated national measures. Somalia lamented a lack of collaboration to combat crime, with Kenya stressing that illegal trade needed to be highlighted with specific requirements against the illegal trade of live cheetah cubs. Others cautioned against duplication of work.
  • On the CITES Big Cats Task Force, the Secretariat introduced the draft terms of reference and modus operandi for the Task Force. China and Indonesia expressed some concern over the content, while Thailand and India supported the new revised terms of reference and modus operandi. SC Chair Caceres set up a drafting group, chaired by the EU, to work through changes.

SC74 participants continued working late into the night.

View of the Dais © CITES

View of the Dais © CITES

 View of the Plenary © CITES

View of the Plenary © CITES

ANCOT-UNEP Vanishing Treasures

© ANCOT/UNEP Vanishing Treasures

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