Report of main proceedings for 14 June 2007
14th Meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP14)
Delegates to CITES CoP14 convened in two committees in the morning, and in plenary in the afternoon. Committee I, inter alia, approved a one-off sale of ivory from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and a nine-year “resting period” for ivory trade. Committee II, inter alia, adopted the CITES Strategic Vision, and decisions on sturgeons and paddlefish. Plenary heard the report of the high-level Ministerial Roundtable, addressed budgetary matters, and adopted decisions and recommendations presented by the committees.
SHARKS: NEW ZEALAND outlined the sharks working group report (CoP14 Com.I.16), including draft decisions on: implementation and effectiveness; commodity codes; species-specific reviews and recommendations; South American freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygonidae); capacity building; the FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks); and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. CANADA supported the decisions.
JAPAN, CHINA, GUINEA and SURINAME suggested deleting the section on IUU fishing, which JAPAN described as overly ambitious, noting the difficulty of identifying IUU vessels and their shark catch. CHINA, opposed by AUSTRALIA, noted that addressing IUU fishing is beyond CITES’ scope and expertise, and should be left to FAO. ARGENTINA, supported by the EU and AUSTRALIA, sought to retain references to IUU fishing, instead suggesting an amendment to include consultation with FAO on the topic.
The CMS stressed the importance of interagency cooperation on species of common interest, highlighting a workshop on migratory sharks to be held in Mahé, Seychelles, in December 2007. The FAO said that implementation of IPOA-Sharks was improving, and stressed FAO's willingness to collaborate with CITES.
Japan’s proposed deletion of text on IUU fishing was rejected, with 39 votes in favor and 48 against. The decisions were then adopted by consensus including Argentina’s amendment.
ELEPHANTS: CHAD and ZAMBIA, on behalf of the African countries, presented the compromise proposal to amend Proposals 4, 5 and 6 on African elephant annotations (CoP14 Inf.61). The new annotation authorizes a one-off sale of raw ivory originating from government stocks registered by 31 January 2007, from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, in addition to quantities agreed at CoP12, subject to verification of trading partners. It also states that: no further ivory trade proposals shall be submitted to the CoP for nine years after the one-off sale; and the SC may decide to stop trade in case of non-compliance or proven detrimental impacts on other elephant populations. The proposal also contains decisions for, inter alia: the SC to propose a decision-making mechanism for ivory trade by CoP16, and to review the status of elephants; range states to develop an African elephant action plan; and the Secretariat to establish an African elephant fund administered by the SC.
Many commended the compromise reached by the Africa region. JAPAN proposed an amendment aiming to separate the shipment of the one-off sale of ivory agreed at CoP12 from the new shipment authorized by CoP14, but withdrew his amendment following objections from the EU, KENYA and CHINA. The US expressed concern about including Zimbabwe in the ivory sale, and duplicating IUCN's activities on African elephant action plans. He also encouraged innovative funding sources for the African elephant fund. KENYA stressed monitoring the impacts of the one-off ivory sale. NAMIBIA underscored the need for a proper decision-making mechanism for future ivory trade.
The proposal was adopted by consensus and acclamation. The EU, BOTSWANA, SOUTH AFRICA and KENYA then withdrew their respective proposals.
Trade in elephant specimens: The Secretariat introduced CoP.14 Doc.53.1, including the proposed action plan for the control of trade in African elephant ivory, which many parties supported. KENYA, opposed by NAMIBIA, outlined an alternative action plan (Cop14 Inf.56) and proposed harmonizing the two plans. Chair Leach disagreed, noting time constraints. The Committee adopted the Secretariat’s action plan.
Delegates adopted by consensus draft decisions presented by the US, as chair of the working groups on: ranching codes (CoP14 Com.II.24); and purpose-of-transaction codes (CoP14 Com.II.29), with a minor amendment by the EU. They also adopted by consensus a draft resolution and decisions on review of the scientific committees (CoP14 Com.II.30).
CITES AND LIVELIHOODS: The UK introduced a revised draft decision (CoP14 Com.II.12), which, inter alia, instructs the SC to develop tools for rapid assessment of the impacts of implementing CITES on livelihoods, and draft guidelines for addressing these impacts. The EU, supported by the US, proposed deleting a requirement to consider the RST as part of the process. BRAZIL, with ARGENTINA and PERU, proposed amendments limiting the scope of the draft guidelines to developing countries, which was opposed by the US. The draft decisions were accepted by consensus with the EU amendment, while BRAZIL’s proposed amendment was rejected by a vote of 25 for and 48 against.
COMPLIANCE: NORWAY, as Chair of the Compliance Working Group, introduced the draft resolution and its annexed guide to CITES compliance procedures (CoP14 Com.II.21), underscoring its non-binding nature, and highlighting, for example, that a recommendation to suspend trade is always based on the Convention and applicable resolutions and decisions. He proposed an amendment whereby the CoP “takes note of” rather than “adopts” the guide, and delegates adopted the resolution by consensus with this amendment.
STURGEONS AND PADDLEFISH: GERMANY, as Chair of the sturgeon working group, introduced draft decisions and a draft amendment to Res. Conf.12.7 (sturgeons and paddlefish) (CoP14 Com.II.25), noting, inter alia, a ceiling for 2008 quotas, and an amendment requesting the Secretariat to seek external funding. The EU supported the document. ROMANIA shared national experience with managing stocks. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION, CANADA, US and IWMC endorsed the document with minor amendments. SEAWEB, with SSN, noted serious concerns about the lack of protection for sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, but supported the quota ceiling for 2008. FAO noted that its Technical Cooperation Programme is due to expire and encouraged parties to submit formal requests for extension. The Secretariat noted concern about its reduced oversight role regarding establishment of export quotas. The draft resolution and decisions were adopted by consensus including all proposed amendments.
STRATEGIC VISION: CANADA, as Chair of the SVWG, introduced the revised draft strategic vision (CoP14 Com.II.20). She highlighted draft decisions requesting SC57 to address an annexed set of indicators, and proposed editorial amendments.
Many delegates supported the draft resolution, with JAPAN calling it a well-balanced reflection of SVWG participants’ conflicting views on sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. While supporting the document, BRAZIL regretted the ’lack of a clear message’ in the vision statement on the link between sustainable management and conservation, and DOMINICA expressed concern about whether it addresses the needs of developing countries and small island developing states.
The Committee adopted the document by consensus.
In the afternoon, CoP14 President Verburg presented the report of the Ministerial Roundtable (CoP14 Inf.62). Welcoming the success of this inaugural ministerial meeting, she highlighted that ministers, inter alia: acknowledged CITES’ contribution to the broader biodiversity and sustainable development agenda, urging increased cooperation between CITES and other international processes; committed to strengthening national measures and increased collaboration on enforcement; and recognized CITES’ complementary role in natural resource management to organizations such as FAO, ITTO and regional fisheries management organizations.
Participants then elected new SC members, namely, DRC, Iran, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Iceland, UK, Bulgaria, Canada and Australia. Members of the scientific committees were also elected.
BUDGET: Committee II Chair Cheung reported on financial and budgetary matters, and delegates adopted by consensus financial reports (CoP14 Doc.7.1 (Rev.1)) and estimated expenditures for 2007 (CoP14 Doc.7.2 (Rev.1)). Secretary-General Wijnstekers then presented the costed programme of work (CoP14 Com.II.31 and CoP14 Com.II.32) noting that Committee II adopted the resolution except for the clause on the percentage of budget increase.
The NETHERLANDS supported a 21% budget increase, saying it was necessary to ensure the sustainability and legality of wildlife trade and with SWITZERLAND, UK, DENMARK, GERMANY, SWEDEN and ZIMBABWE proposed a vote on a 15% increase.
MEXICO and PERU opposed, saying that some countries cannot spare additional resources and advocating “minimal growth” with a better allocation of resources. JAPAN regretted lack of timely submission of budget-related information to parties, as finance ministries need to approve any budget increase. The US said it could support a 3% increase and urged greater transparency in the presentation of information. A Friends of the Chair group was established.
CAPACITY BUILDING: Following a request from URUGUAY, supported by SURINAME and KENYA, to reopen discussions on capacity-building related provisions in the AC/PC joint report (CoP14 Doc.8.4), delegates deferred discussion on capacity building (CoP14 Com.II.15) to Friday.
REGISTRATION OF CAPTIVE BREEDING OPERATIONS: BOLIVIA sought successfully to reopen debate on the Philippines’ proposal to register a captive breeding operation for eight Appendix-I bird species (CoP14 Doc.47), which had been adopted by Committee I. In a vote, delegates overturned Committee I’s decision and the Philippines’ proposal was rejected, falling one vote short of a two-thirds majority, with 63 in favor and 32 against.
OTHER DECISIONS AND RESOLUTIONS: Delegates confirmed the committees’ rejection of proposals on: trade in Appendix-I species (CoP14 Doc.34); the relationship between ex situ production and in situ conservation (CoP14 Doc.48 (Rev.1)); and cetaceans (CoP14 Doc.51). They also noted the withdrawal of proposals on confiscated specimens by Indonesia (CoP14 Doc.27) and on the annotations to Euphorbia spp. and Orchidaceae species by Switzerland (CoP14 Doc.31). Delegates adopted by consensus all other decisions from the committees relating to agenda items 8-63, with the exception of item 53 (elephants) and 59.3 (trade measures regarding the porbeagle shark and the spiny dogfish), which will be considered on Friday.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Collective cheers and sighs of relief were heard throughout the conference center’s hallways on Thursday as tense delegates finally witnessed agreement on proposals on the African elephant in Committee I. The Hague’s reputation as a place to resolve the toughest of disputes was upheld, and some observers commented that Zimbabwe not only steered the informal ministerial consultations to a successful outcome, but has also now joined the exclusive club of ivory-trading nations. Overall most delegates voiced respect for an “African solution” on elephants although some were “not necessarily happy about the contents of the deal.”
When delegates moved to plenary, Palau’s hint about revisiting the periodic review of whales prompted many delegates to speculate on the potential reopening of other marine items, with many tipping a rematch on spiny dogfish and possibly porbeagle shark and corals. Most also suspected that the budget may add the final note of suspense to an eventful closing day.