The 40th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Standing Committee was held from March 3-6, 1998 in London, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of this historic wildlife treaty. Thirty-four CITES Parties were present. Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are not able to attend these sessions as observers, one evening was reserved for NGO presentations. AWI's Adam Roberts, as Chair of the Species Survival Network (SSN) Bear Working Group, addressed the delegates about the need to act immediately to end the ongoing illegal trade in bear parts and products of use in traditional Asian medicine.
AWI and SSN hoped the Parties would take significant proactive measures to implement the recommendations agreed to in a resolution unanimously passed at the tenth Conference of the Parties to CITES last summer in Harare, Zimbabwe. One of the more important decisions taken at the Harare meeting was to call for the CITES Secretariat "to convene an international workshop on law enforcement and forensic techniques essential to stopping illegal trade in bear parts and derivatives." AWI and SSN have long endorsed such a workshop.
To its credit, the CITES Secretariat took this recommendation one step further by recognizing that the trade in threatened and endangered species for medicinal purposes threatens many species in addition to bears, such as the highly imperiled tiger. The Secretariat advised "that joint approaches to these two species may prove practical, beneficial and cost effective".
The Standing Committee, therefore, agreed to convene this important enforcement and forensics workshop and, at our request, would attempt to do so in Asia by the end of 1998. It is AWI's hope that holding the workshop in Asia would ensure widespread participation by CITES officials in the Asian region where demand for parts and products of endangered species is greatest. It would also provide an advanced opportunity for public education and awareness through the media attention that such a workshop would receive.
AWI and SSN have made significant advancements in fostering a cooperative and productive relationship with the CITES Secretariat and Parties to the Convention. Hopefully this professional connection will advance our efforts to protect bears, tigers and other species in trade for years to come.
Animal Welfare Institute Forty-Seventh Annual Report, July 1, 1997 to June 30, 1998. p. 7-8.