The sixty-ninth meeting of the Standing Committee (SC69) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) established 27 intersessional working groups.
The SC agreed to treat all pangolin parts and derivatives as though they have always been listed on Appendix I.
The Committee rejected a request by Madagascar to export its stockpiles of thousands of tonnes of seized or “declared” rosewood and ebony.
4 December 2017: The sixty-ninth meeting of the Standing Committee (SC69) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) established 27 intersessional working groups that will report back to its next meeting in 2018. The Committee addressed a long agenda, considering, inter alia, progress in: National Ivory Action Plans (NIAP) implementation; tackling illegal trade in pangolins; assessing Japan’s introduction of sei whales from the high seas; and compliance with the Convention in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Guinea.
Over 600 participants attended SC69, which convened from 27 November – 1 December 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland.
On pangolins, debates focused on what to do with stockpiles of scales seized before the species was uplisted to Appendix I (trade permitted only for exceptional circumstances) in 2017, with some stakeholders arguing they should be treated as though listed under Appendix II (trade permitted, but controlled). According to CITES, the largest seizure in China was announced during the meeting, with scales coming from an estimated 20,000 pangolins. The debate went to a vote in plenary, which concluded that the Conference of the Parties (CoP) should make such determinations. In the interim, the SC agreed to treat all pangolin parts and derivatives as though they have always been listed on Appendix I, putting the debate aside until CoP18. The decision also calls for maintaining an inventory of stockpiles of pangolin scales.
On Ivory, SC69 reviewed implementation of NIAPs by Angola, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania. It issued warnings to Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Tanzania to submit progress reports and decided to request Qatar, a significant transit country, to develop a NIAP.
Regarding rosewood, SC69 rejected a request by Madagascar to export its stockpiles of thousands of tonnes of seized or “declared” rosewood and ebony. The SC requested the country to strengthen measures against illegal logging and trade, audit its inventory of at least two-thirds of its stockpiles and submit a detailed use plan to the Committee. In response to concerns of the musical instrument industry, the SC agreed to interim measures that allow the cross-border movement of instruments containing rosewood that doesn’t lead to the sale of the item or the item being left in a different country.
Thought not related to a specific species, delegates also raised questions on achieving robust stakeholder engagement in both CITES decision-making and enforcement processes, while ensuring balanced representation and fair access. This conversation focused particularly on the local communities at the forefront of wildlife conservation and CITES implementation. Some participants sought to define local communities and chose representatives, while others noted that their governments represented such groups. CoP 17 had established an intersessional working group on the issue, and the SC identified interested parties, and tasked the working group chair, Namibia, to identify representatives of rural communities, considering regional balance and the advice of parties.
Among many other SC decisions, the Committee meeting also saw important financial announcements. Switzerland announced an additional CHF1 million per annum to support CITES, while EU, Germany and the UK announced US$20 million towards the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).
The Standing Committee provides policy guidance to the CITES Secretariat concerning the implementation of the Convention and oversees the management of the Secretariat’s budget. The next SC meeting will be held in Sochi, the Russian Federation, from 1-5 October 2018. [IISD RS coverage of SC69] [CITES Press Release]