Report from the 61st CITES standing committee in Geneva


OK. You think CITES is all about the cut and thrust of debate about whether to permit ivory trade, how to stop rhino poaching, protect tigers… and, of course it often is!

But today, the opening day of the 61st CITES Standing Committee meeting in Geneva Switzerland it was a case of…… sshhh…. secret squirrel!

The EU (supported by the UK) had proposed that the CITES Secretariat develop a paper reviewing the use of Secret Ballots as a voting mechanism at CITES Conferences of the Parties.

The debate rocked back and forth – should there be such a paper or not (it’s only a paper for goodness sake, not a proposal to change or end the use of secret ballots!)

No consensus could be achieved in the room and so it went to a vote!

On a show of hands the Proposal from the EU was passed by 9 – 7

But hold on… China is asking if they can see a list of how Members of the Standing Committee voted.

The Secretariat, caught on the back foot, say they have not kept a list.

The Chair says the only way to get such a list would be to take a Roll Call vote (where each Member calls out Yes or No). China says ‘yes please’.

The Roll Call goes ahead 8-7 in favour of the EU proposal.

However, what’s this? Dominica had left the room during the second vote and when the delegate came back he asked ‘what had occurred’?

The Chair explained and then – in a move entirely out of order with the Rules of Procedure which state that only those ‘present’ in the room may cast their votes – asked the representative of the Dominican Republic if he want to cast his vote now that he was back in the room.

Of course he readily agreed and levelled the result at 8/8

A tie!

The Chair then turned to the delegate from Switzerland (who has the role of voting to break deadlocks) and asked him to vote accordingly.

Switzerland supported the EU Proposal. The result: 9 votes in favour and 8 against. So the Secretariat will now go ahead and produce an historical review of the use of secret ballots…… a matter which remains of serious concern to many Parties and conservation experts.

Wow! Welcome to the sometimes baffling World of CITES!

Blogging off!


One Response to “Report from the 61st CITES standing committee in Geneva”

  1. Robert Jones Says:

    Lets keep our fingers crossed but, I must admit, I don’t hold out much hope !!