1. The time for diplomacy as we have now learnt died about 43-years ago when CITES was formed with good intentions of a fair regulation of trade in wild flora and fauna but was soon captured by the anti-use Western animal rights groups. The politics between the U.S. and Iran is different and can’t be discussed in this context.
2. The African nations will never unite as a continent but as regions because their interest are different as their wildlife populations. Additionally, the West has continued to divide African regions 24/7, to serve Western interests since colonial period. Even where Africa shows signs of unity the West argues that we are divided so that it can continue to manipulate Africa as it is doing today within UN CITES decision-making framework; presided over by Western white males since it was established 43 years ago. When we asked for an African CITES Secretary-General recently following the departure of John Scanlon; they then evade our call by playing the gender card and gave us the current woman CITES Secretary-General. Not African. No need to mention names.
3. The trend is that CITES decisions will always be not so favorable to Africans because the power relations in CITES are in favour of Western countries and Western animal rights groups.
4. This means that diplomacy is no longer going to work in negotiating African interests and needs in CITES.
5. Hunting markets are already being alarmingly shut down worldwide. Those hunters who dare display their hunting trophies are being criminally victimized as happened to a French couple recently. No one in the diplomatic circles in the West, including Amnesty International uttered a word against the violation of the French couple’s rights to photographically display their trophies.
6. We in Africa want hunting, rhino horn and ivory trade.
It is unfortunate if someone tries to scare Africans from a CITES pullout saying it would make Africa lose the opportunity to hunt when we are already losing that hunting opportunity before we even pullout of CITES.
Therefore, our hunting industry must not be lied to. The African hunting industry must not be threatened to believe that if SADC Governments pullout of CITES it would threaten hunting markets which we know are already being shut down.
Let no one try to lie to African hunters or scare them that SADC CITES pullout will doom the hunting industry. There is no connection because the West is already shutting down hunting markets. Who can’t see that in our hunting industry?
7. Therefore, the CITES COP18 outcomes that SADC countries face as hunting markets continue to be closed are as follows:
1. Vote against ivory & rhino horn trade &;
2. Go back home empty handed.
Therefore, there is nothing to lose but something to gain if SADC countries after this sad and no-win outcome; decide pullout of CITES to trade legally in ivory & rhino horn with Asian countries.
Those who think diplomacy is working or will work within CITES will soon be disillusioned as Japan was by
the International Whaling Commission from which it eventually pullout and started whale hunting this month for the benefit of its people and not to senselessly please Western anti-whale-hunting values.
Those Africans who fool themselves to find justice in CITES will never find justice.
Sadly, I know many African experts who sought to find justice via direct diplomacy within CITES but have since died without finding it.
Therefore, we will not allow our generation to remain boxed In a Convention where we can’t find justice.
About the writer: Emmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who has written extensively on environment and development issues in Africa.