CITES backdoor

Conservation group aids entry for vested interest

Published: Sunday 31 October 2004

the International Fund for Animal Welfare (ifaw), one of the world's largest conservation groups, has made a startling disclosure that it had paid for the attendance of additional delegates from three developing countries at the 13th Conference of Parties (cop-13) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (cites). The meet kicked off at Bangkok in Thailand, on October 2, 2004. cites spokesperson Peter Pueschel admitted that ifaw had paid for additional delegates from Togo, Senegal and the Republic of Congo at the cites cop-13, according to a report in the Guardian on September 30, 2004.

Eugene Lapointe, President of iwmc World Conservation Trust, a pro-sustainable use organisation, claimed that ifaw had also offered to pay for delegates from Russia and several west African countries on the condition that it be included in each delegation. But these nations rejected the offer. "It is difficult to blame a poor country for accepting an offer of financial assistance but cites has to maintain the standards it established nearly twenty years ago to stop strings being attached to donations," Lapointe said.

Media reports of the disclosure coincided with the news that Fred O' Reagan, ifaw chief executive, had written to the cites secretariat, refusing to donate any fund to the Sponsored Delegates Project. This project accepts money from governments and non-governmental organisations and distributes it among developing countries to aid their participation in meetings.

The fracas happened days before cites standing committee chairman Kenneth Stansell warned that the convention was facing a fund crunch not only for starting new activities but also to maintain existing levels of work. But funds or no funds, cop-13 promises to be a battle of gargantuan proportions, with news already filtering in that Namibia and South Africa's winning the right to trophy hunt Black Rhinoceros (see Down To Earth, 'Lucky 13',October 15, 2004) had brought the meeting to a boil.

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