Earlier in the week – on Tuesday, which seems like an age ago – Dr Rowan Martin, a longtime advocate of legal ivory trade, submitted a report on a Decision-Making Mechanism for future ivory trade.
However, the report, which contained many flaws (inaccuracies, personal opinions and a proposal which may even be illegal under international law concerning the establishment of an ivory cartel) was roundly criticised by many Parties here at the Standing Committee including the USA, EU, Kenya, India, Israel, Central African Republic, Congo and more.
In light of these criticisms it was decided on Tuesday that a small group would go away and come back with recommendations as to what to do with this $50,000 report!
Today, Botswana, in consultation with the UK and others including Kenya, reported the following to the CITES Standing Committee:
1. The CITES Secretariat will invite further comments from the stakeholders who have already worked on the study.
2. Comments must be submitted by 31 August 2012
3. On the basis of the study and responses received, the Secretariat will review the information and prepare a document consolidating all comments for review by the same stakeholders and Chair of the Standing Committee.
5. Chair should take all comments into account and prepare a document for consideration of the next Conference of the Parties to CITES (Thailand in March 2013)
6. The report of the Chair of the Standing Committee should make it clear that it does not necessarily represent the views of all members of the Standing Committee.
7. The responses of the stakeholders will be made public where they have given permission.
Kenya spoke immediately after Botswana reminding the Standing Committee that all documents must be translated into French to ensure that the majority of African Elephant Range States (the Francophones) can fully participate in the process.
So here’s my take on all this. A terrible report is almost, but not quite, dead and buried. The process that might lead to a future legal trade in ivory needs to be fully reconsidered (and CoP16 in Thailand is FAR too early) and speculation about whether there may be legal trade in the near future needs to be taken off the table as it is, in my view, fuelling demand and elephant slaughter.
We need to be totally clear: No more trade; No more killing; No more buying. Africa and Asia’s elephants need a break!
If you want to hear more about my personal views on this then please go to my latest video blog!