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Photos and RealAudio of 13 April

On Thursday, delegates met in a morning Plenary to complete their work on strategic and administrative matters. Committees I and II reconvened in the afternoon. Extensive time was spent in both Committees revising draft minutes.

Standing Committee working group Chair Kenneth Stensall (US) introduced, and many delegates endorsed, the Convention's Strategic Plan (Doc. 11.12.2), which focuses on a number of priority implementation goals and objectives. He proposed that COP-11 maintain the working group to monitor the action plan and recommend updates. The Strategic Plan was adopted.
NORWAY underlined the importance of strengthening CITES scientific basis, and noted the need to cooperate with other conventions.
Indonesia opposed replacing the trade of live animal with captive-bred animals, since breeding is rarely an economically viable solution for developing countries.

Willem Wijnstekers, CITES Secretary-General, reacts
to Parties' observations and comments on the Strategic Plan


Hamdallah Zedan, Secretary-General of the CBD provided an update on activities including the recently ratified Biosafety Protocol. He highlighted two important areas for potential cooperation between CITES and the CBD to be considered at CBD COP-5 to be held 15 – 27 May 2000. He said new national reporting guidelines and the Strategic Plan, which includes consideration of joint programming, would be important areas of cooperation between CBD and CITES. He welcomed CITES input to these discussions.
Arnulf Müller-Helmbrecht, Secretary-General of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), noted that the CMS provides the legal and programmatic basis to conserve migratory species. He suggested that joint programming should be explored and implemented for species listed by both CITES and CMS. He announced that CITES and CMS will enter into consultation to establish a MOU.

Special event: What Role for Civil Society in Conservation?

The sharp differences between NGOs attending CITES COP-11 surfaced again at a NGO panel discussion co-convened by Environment Liaison Centre International, and UNEP's Civil Society and NGO Unit to discuss the role civil society organisations (CSOs) should play in CITES.

Panellist Peter Pueschel from Greenpeace, who called for transparency and accountability in CITES through the elimination of secret voting, public information and education and channelling of information from grassroots communities to CITES, was questioned about Greenpeaces' transparency in its internal decision-making. A panellist, Rune Frovik of the High North Alliance, also accused Greenpeace of sensationalism, and underscored the need for NGOs to substantiate their claims with factual information.

Another panellist, Cecil Machena of the African Resources Centre, criticized the "conservationist" approach of some NGOs that fail to recognise that the wildlife conservation without benefits accruing to local communities "is not real."

Addressing NGOs, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer said NGOs play an important role in providing both "constructive information and criticism" that leads to dialogue because compromise for its own sake is ineffective.

Gordon Shepard of WWF said NGOs strength is in their diversity, and noted that whereas governments seek conflict resolution, NGOs seek conflict management. Mario Hernandez of the CITES Secretariat said CSOs can create public awareness among consumers and eliminate the market for trade in endangered species.

Press briefings

EUROPEAN UNION: Chistoph Bail, of the European Commission (EC) on behalf of the EU, announced that the EU would adopt both a firm position on key CITES issues and a flexible approach to details of the negotiations. He expressed satisfaction with the evolution of discussions but regretted the absence of constructive attitude on the part of some delegations. On the issue of whales, he said CITES should not take any action that would undermine the primacy of IWC in the area of whale conservation, and therefore opposed the down-listing of whales proposed by Japan. He further declared that the EU does not support the Cuban proposal on turtles and called for mitigating measures to curb over-exploitation of sharks. On the issue of African Elephants, while opposing any trade in raw ivory on the basis of the precautionary principle, he said it was too early to assess the impacts of the down-listing decided at COP-10. He urged for an agreement among range States.

JAPAN: Representatives of the Japanese delegations reiterated their philosophy of "sustainable use." One representative hoped discussions on whales would be "appropriate" and said all populations of minke whales should be downlisted to Appendix II so that sustainable whaling could resume. On elephants and ivory trade, he characterized the one-off trade as a success and urged all CITES COP-11 delegates to support the proposals of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa to allow more trade. He asserted that this trade "cannot do any damage to African elephants in the region" and rejected claims that elephant poaching had increased as a result of allowing ivory trade. On whether Japan could hold off on ivory trade until there is consensus that this won't fuel poaching, one representative said that, according to the CITES secretariat, there is no evidence that agreed upon ivory trade will lead to poaching or illegal trade. In response to a question as to why "Japan eats all endangered species," representatives explained that Japan has a cultural need to consume such species, but that it intends to do so in a sustainable manner.

Central to the debate on ivory trade is whether the 1997 decision allowing Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe a one-off sale to Japan has caused resurgence in elephant poaching. Many delegates are stunned by the low number of poaching incidents reported to the Secretariat since 1997. The figure of 235 contrasts sharply with independent studies conducted that reveal figures closer to 30,000. Some delegates intimate foul play and underestimation by countries who wish to color statistics in support of continuing the ivory trade. Others speculate that reports to the Secretariat were limited due to countries withholding information out of fear of making waves. Several African countries assert that the 1997 decision has resulted in increased poaching and are concerned that the Secretariat's skewed figure will be used to advocate continued ivory trade which could increase international demand for ivory, lead to more poaching and future pressure for ivory trade in range States.

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