Wildlife & Biodiversity

CITES CoP 2019: Resolution seeking closure of domestic ivory markets not adopted

30 African countries panned EU, Japan for not closing legal ivory markets

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 22 August 2019

resolution calling for Japan and the European Union (EU) to close their legal domestic ivory markets was not adopted at the ongoing 18th Conference of Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva on August 21, 2019.

A coalition of 30 African elephant range states in favour of elephant protection strongly criticised the failure of Japan and the EU to close their markets as recommended at the last CITES Conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016.

However, governments at CITES refused to back the call from these African countries to tighten language in the resolution to unequivocally call for the closure of all domestic legal ivory markets.

Instead, they accepted a compromise to ask countries that have not closed domestic markets to report back on measures they are taking at the next CITES conference.

During the debate on domestic ivory markets, the EU announced it would soon be introducing new regulations.

Currently, EU regulations afford too many opportunities for criminals to pass off ivory from poached elephants as antiques and export to other markets around the world.

Matt Collis, director, international policy, International Fund for Animal Welfare or IFAW, said in a press statement that out of CITES' 183 members, many  including China, the US, UK and others have taken or announced measures to close their ivory markets.

“Legal ivory markets and a lack of action against large illegal markets in certain countries continue to provide opportunities for criminal syndicates to traffic ivory,” he noted.

Collis urged the EU and Japan, whose legal domestic markets remain open, to close them as a matter of urgency, and hoped they would be in a position to report back on such steps at the next CITES conference.

Elephants are in crisis, with at least 20,000 being illegally killed each year for their ivory. On an average around 55 elephants are poached every day in Africa; that's roughly one every 26 minutes.

The CoP18 of CITES is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland until August 28. 

On August 22, proposals to address the listing status of elephants on the CITES appendices, which will determine if future sales of stockpiled ivory are allowed or not, are scheduled to be introduced.

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