CoP18 — Geneva, Switzerland
Compiled by Emmanuel Koro, African environmental journalist who extensively written on environment and development issues in Africa
Meet the harmful champions of promoting African poverty (The World Wide Fund) at a time when the CITES Secretariat is calling for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. How can that be achieved when the WWF has announced its global programme to shutdown the Asian countries lucrative ivory markets for SADC countries? Photo left (centre, James Compton, TRAFFIC Asia Pacific Senior Director. Photo right: Ginette Hemley, WWF- U.S.A.
IN THIS ISSUE:
CITES decision-making process to be reviewed to accommodate African interests,
Rural communities are given the voice but not the vote,
Total ivory markets shutdown – a blow for SADC countries.
The nations of Namibia, South Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zimbabwe presented a document to the CoP18 Animals Committee seeking a review of CITES decision-making processes. The process is currently flawed with uninvestigated and unpunished vote-buying scandals and countries with elephant populations that exist only in a zoo unfairly imposing the ill-informed decisions on why elephant-overpopulated African countries should not trade in ivory and hunt elephants.
Egypt, Uganda and Botswana warmly supported the initiative, with strong opposition unsurprisingly expressed by the animal rights captured Central and Western Africa. In contrast, the EU gave a breath of fresh air support for the SADC countries’ call for reforms in CITES decision-making process, suggesting that a Committee be formed to achieve the improvements. It also said the proposal was too vague in exactly how the organization might change.
Then CITES Animals Committee Chairman, Craig Hoover of the United States —who served as a former member of the U.S. delegation to CITES but now Vice President of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums suggested the creation of a drafting committee to improve the SADC proposal by making it specific on exactly what would be reviewed and clearly setting out the parameters for review. Like magic, SADC proponent countries enthusiastically agreed to this idea. The chairman asked the EU to chair a committee to redraft the African proposal for review by the Committee in a later session.
He appointed the four sponsors and accepted the U.S.’s request to be part of the group. The Animals Committee Chairman, Craig Hoover rejected the Ivory Education Institute (IEI) request to be part of the drafting committee as an observer, in order to neutralize the U.S. dominance in crafting an English language product was rejected. The U.S. based IEI a very strong supporter of SADC countries’ sustainable use.
At a side SADC Communities Voices side event yesterday, the representatives of rural communities express disgust at
Western countries’ continued and unjustified banning of ivory trade while the SADC region is suffering from an elephant overpopulation challenge. They also note that it is not enough for CITES to giving communities a voice while their countries’ votes are being unfairly stolen through the ongoing and uninvestigated vote-buying in CITES.
The UN monitors African elections and condemns vote-rigging, not so in its own agency CITES where votes continue to be stolen all the time. Double standards indeed. Shame on you the UN.
THE SOURCE COMMENTS: It was clear that the U.S. and not African interests focused, Animals Committee Chairman, Craig Hoover had decided how to finesse this particular issue sometime before it came to the floor. He didn’t want to squash the earnest efforts of the sponsors, who had exposed one of CITES’ major weaknesses that countries with no stake in African wildlife issues were deciding many issues affecting Africa. He also knew that the other African states were protecting the money they receive for allowing the animal rights groups to control the organization. So he decided to put trusted people in charge of the redrafting effort to steer the final product in a way to give the proponents something but that did not disturb the status quo. By rejecting any observer participation in the redrafting process, he ensured no interference with the outcome he had designed. It was modern-day paternalism towards Africa at work again. The big Western states would figuratively pat the African countries on the head for their nice CITES decision-making reform initiative, but they will not allow them to go too far in disrupting what the Western animal rights groups get from the CITES organization they dominate not for conservation but for financial gains.
Therefore, it was not surprising that the Western animal rights groups’ fundraising machine would later roar in louder when the Senior Vice President and General Counsel, World Wide Fund (WWF) U.S. Ginette Hemley announced the global ivory trade shutdown in Asia. This a big blow for the elephant over-populated countries who have always seen Asia as their most lucrative ivory market.
But the WWF did not go unchallenged as a SADC environmental journalist disruptively and truthfully told the WWF that was a racist, it’s retrogressive, non-progressive and just every bad you can talk about. This is the saddest day for Africa. The WWF has reportedly violated human rights in its conservation approach, with the German Government, have cut funding for some of its projects.
• If ivory was oil that the Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and other countries are currently producing and trading you (WWF) would not dare shut down oil markets without consulting the Organisation of Producing Countries (OPEC). Currently, the WWF dares not tell powerful OPEC countries to tell them to stop doing so because oil harms the environment, human beings and wildlife such as elephants.
• “The only human beings that can save the African elephant on planet earth are African people who share the same land with elephants and are currently walking barefoot with women who lack sanitary wear and without clean drinking water, hospitals, schools, roads etc., but are ironically living in elephant-rich environments,” said the SADC journalist. “Your global ivory markets shutdown will not work. A ban on ivory trade has not saved a single elephant for the past 44 years, it will not work in the future.”
THE SOURCE COMMENTS: Delegates to CITES CoP18 are stunned by the foolish decision of the CITES Secretariat not to put speakers from the floors on the big screens? We should. It is a good observation of how much is lost in not being able to see who is speaking. This weird world.