CITES meeting helps boost fight against illegal wildlife trade

IUCN expertise made a significant contribution to the 66th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Standing Committee (SC66) held in Geneva earlier this month.

African Elephant Photo: IUCN Photo Library - Alicia Held

The CITES Standing Committee carries out activities on behalf of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) between CoP meetings and provides policy and operational direction concerning implementation of the Convention, coordinates and advises on the work of the scientific committees of CITES, and deliberates the establishment of compliance measures, e.g. trade suspensions, on Parties to the Convention.

IUCN’s main contribution to SC66 was the provision of scientific and technical information to help the Standing Committee with its decision-making. This took place through the making of interventions, participation in working groups, and through holding side events. IUCN made specific interventions on a range of species and thematic issues both in plenary and in working groups and which pertained to: African elephants, Asian elephants, African rhinos, boas and pythons, big cats, pangolins, seahorses, sharks, tortoises and freshwater turtles as well as sustainable use and local livelihoods. IUCN also hosted side events on the role that local communities can play in combatting wildlife crime (with UNDP), on trade in diagnostic specimens and on the illegal trade, conservation status and use of pangolins.

Notable outcomes from the meeting include China (including Hong Kong), Kenya and the Philippines being commended for making substantial progress on implementing their National Ivory Action Plans (NIAPs), but for other Parties including Angola, Lao PDR and Nigeria, the adoption of recommendations to suspend trade as they had failed to submit reports on progress in implementing NIAPs. The meeting also recognized progress made in the conservation and trade management of sharks following the listing of several shark species in the Appendices at CoP16 (2013). The Standing Committee also adopted recommendations on measures to address illegal trade in rhinos, cheetahs, Asian big cats and pangolins and on which further decisions will be made at either the 67th meeting of the Standing Committee or the 17th Conference of the Parties which takes place in September-October 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. In acknowledging that where trade in snakes is unsustainable and unregulated it can threaten wild populations, the meeting also agreed on guidance to be made available to the CITES Parties on ensuring the conservation, sustainable use and trade in snakes.

Additionally, the Standing Committee agreed to steps to address captive breeding issues, including the misuse of source codes and laundering of wild animals as captive bred. It welcomed the CITES and Livelihoods handbook which was launched at a side event of the meeting and called for continued attention on CITES and Livelihoods, in particular on lessons learnt to date. The meeting also recognised the role of traceability in ensuring trade in CITES-listed species is legal and sustainable.

For specific reasons, including the non-submission of CITES trade data, Parties’ failing to improve national legislation and on-going trafficking of timber species, the Standing Committee adopted recommendations to suspend trade in selected species or all CITES-listed species for a number of countries which, inter alia, include Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Venezuela, and Madagascar.

Work area: 
Species
Red List
Wildlife trade
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