On July 7, 2014 the 65th Standing Committee for the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) began. The Standing Committee provides policy guidance to the Secretariat concerning the implementation of CITES and oversees the management of the budget. Beyond these roles, it also coordinates and oversees the work of other committees and working groups and drafts resolutions for consideration by the Conference of the Parties.
The meeting serves as an opportunity for participating Parties to discuss barriers to implementing the Convention within their country and additional needs of those Parties. Though the topics discussed by the Standing Committee are more focused on administrative matters, they are crucial in ensuring a unified process guides wildlife policy around the world. Some of the items discussed at this year’s meeting include: compliance and law enforcement, cooperation with other organizations, and capacity building and cooperation among the Parties.
Without laws to implement the convention, there are no penalties for illegal wildlife trade; it is not illegal trade unless a law says so. Many Parties do not have adequate laws to implement the Convention and enforce the international agreements reached on wildlife trade. They have no way to penalize their citizens from violating CITES regulations. These Parties are in jeopardy of trade suspensions if they do not demonstrate they are making progress with national laws that help implement the Convention. At the 66th Standing Committee, the committee will decide which Parties should receive trade suspensions because they have not adopted sufficient legislation.
Several of these Parties are involved with hunting. Each of the hunting countries mentioned are working on compliance, but SCI and SCI Foundation will continually track progress to ensure trade suspensions are not proposed. Those Parties have about one year to prevent suspensions from happening. In some places, political pressures from anti-hunting groups are severely influencing policy and governments need to invest in comprehensive law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts if they wish to maintain the economic benefits trade can provide.
To strengthen capacity building, a survey was conducted to learn how to better implement the Convention in developing countries. The recommendations of the Secretariat were adopted and a working group was formed. The working group, a smaller representation of the Parties and other relevant organization, are reviewing how Parties can access and utilize new technologies needed to implement the Convention, and further assist non-English speaking countries with translation and interpretation. The working group will develop a mechanism to assess needs and report back to the Secretariat.
The Standing Committee Meeting ends July 11, 2014. An in depth, breakdown of the meetings events will be in next week’s Weekly Update. Stay Tuned and Stay Informed.
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