The 16th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was held in Bangkok, Thailand from the 3rd – 14th March, 2013. The CIC participates in CITES meetings as an Intergovernmental Observer Organisation, along with international organisations such as IUCN, FAO, UNEP and European Union, with related speaking rights. The CIC agreed well in advance, on positions to be taken on proposals by the parties which were of direct interest to the sustainable use of wildlife and to the CIC. The positions were posted on the CIC website and shared with numerous other organizations.
The Thai proposal to make the 3rd of March, date of the signature of CITES in 1973, World Wildlife Day was adopted and will be followed by a proposal from Thailand to the UN General Assembly to that effect. If agreed by the UN, the CIC will ensure that in future, the 3rd of March receives special attention by the entire constituency of the CIC.
All in all, no less than 55 of the 71 proposals put before the CoP were adopted by consensus. Of these proposals, the following are some specific species proposals of interest to the CIC:
• Transfer of the Abruzzo chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra ornata) from Appendix I to II: adopted by consensus.
• Transfer of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) from Appendix II to I: rejected
• Kenya and Namibia hope to submit a report to the 2014 meeting of the Animals Committee on the status of the African lion (Panthera leo).
• Kenyan proposal to reduce the hunting trophy quotas for the Appendix II populations of white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) of South Africa and Swaziland to zero: withdrawn.
• Kenya proposal to not allow further proposals to allow trade in ivory from any range state before November 2017 (NB CoP 17 and 18 are planned for 2016 and 2019 respectively): withdrawn.
• Kenyan proposal to not allow proposals for one-off sales of ivory until 2016 from any range state (now only applicable to countries with earlier successful proposals): rejected.
• Proposal from the Animals Committee (through Switzerland) to delete Sonnerat’s junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii): rejected because of the opposition from the only range state, India.
• Proposal by the Animals Committee for deletion of Blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus) from Appendix II: rejected because of opposition from the range states.
• Imperial pheasant (Lophura x imperialis): deleted from Appendix I because of it being a hybrid. It will still be considered as if in Appendix I because of the listing in Appendix I of Lophura edwardsi, one of the species of which it is a hybrid.
• The Caspian snowcock (Tetraogallus caspius) has not been in trade since 1975, but opposition from several range states prevented it from being transferred from Appendix I to II.
• Proposal to transfer the Tibetan snowcock (Tetraogallus tibetanus) from Appendix I to II: rejected (for the same reason as Caspian snowcock).
• Transfer of Attwater’s greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) from Appendix I to II: adopted by consensus.
Amongst the other results of the meeting, the EU proposal to make it more difficult to request for secret ballots on proposals was rejected.
CIC support was appreciated by a number of Parties, including by Canada in relation to the failed US proposal to up-list the polar bear to Appendix I and South Africa in relation to their rhino, elephant, and lion issues. The position of the CIC was to listen carefully to the wishes of developing countries and to support the successful attempts of developing countries in ensuring that capacity building meets their needs. The CIC also welcomed the discussions on how to better recognize rural livelihoods in CITES decisions and the progress which was made on this subject.
A positive series of decisions which address the issue of so-called stricter national measures, mainly in the form of unilateral import bans, was adopted as a first step to reduce overly strict national measures and to instead stimulate the broad validity of multilateral measures.
A proposal by a working group regarding annual quotas for elephant hunting trophies containing ivory to be submitted to and reviewed by the Secretariat was adopted. The CoP rejected proposals of Kenya and likeminded elephant range states to delay the adoption of a decision-making mechanism for future trade in ivory. The CoP decided that a mechanism is to be adopted at CoP17 in 2016.
Rhinoceros (Rhinocerotidae) horn and elephant ivory will no longer be considered as personal effects or household goods and will thus require full CITES permitting as non-commercial export and import. Importantly, this decision will not affect the possibility to export and import hunting trophies.
During bilateral meetings and exchanges with a great number of Parties and other stakeholders, an important number of potential donors expressed an interest in co-funding the revision of the widely acclaimed CIC publication “The Evolution of CITES” by the CIC Deputy President of the Policy and Law Division, Willem Wijnstekers. In these informal meetings, a number of very important future initiatives were outlined and need to be followed up urgently.
The CIC Delegation at CITES CoP 16 expresses its gratitude to the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and to the CITES Secretariat staff for the immaculate organization of the event. CITES CoP 17 will be held in South Africa, in 2016.