CITES Standing Committee

The 40th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in EndangeredSpecies of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Standing Committee was held fromMarch 3-6, 1998 in London, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of thishistoric wildlife treaty. Thirty-four CITES Parties were present. Althoughnon-governmental organizations (NGOs) are not able to attend these sessionsas observers, one evening was reserved for NGO presentations. AWI's AdamRoberts, as Chair of the Species Survival Network (SSN) Bear Working Group,addressed the delegates about the need to act immediately to end the ongoingillegal trade in bear parts and products of use in traditional Asian medicine.

AWI and SSN hoped the Parties would take significant proactive measuresto implement the recommendations agreed to in a resolution unanimouslypassed at the tenth Conference of the Parties to CITES last summer in Harare,Zimbabwe. One of the more important decisions taken at the Harare meetingwas to call for the CITES Secretariat "to convene an internationalworkshop on law enforcement and forensic techniques essential to stoppingillegal trade in bear parts and derivatives." AWI and SSN have longendorsed such a workshop.

To its credit, the CITES Secretariat took this recommendation one stepfurther by recognizing that the trade in threatened and endangered speciesfor medicinal purposes threatens many species in addition to bears, suchas the highly imperiled tiger. The Secretariat advised "that jointapproaches to these two species may prove practical, beneficial and costeffective".

The Standing Committee, therefore, agreed to convene this importantenforcement and forensics workshop and, at our request, would attempt todo so in Asia by the end of 1998. It is AWI's hope that holding the workshopin Asia would ensure widespread participation by CITES officials in theAsian region where demand for parts and products of endangered speciesis greatest. It would also provide an advanced opportunity for public educationand awareness through the media attention that such a workshop would receive.

AWI and SSN have made significant advancements in fostering a cooperativeand productive relationship with the CITES Secretariat and Parties to theConvention. Hopefully this professional connection will advance our effortsto protect bears, tigers and other species in trade for years to come.

Animal Welfare Institute Forty-Seventh Annual Report, July 1, 1997to June 30, 1998. p. 7-8.